Restaurants taking drastic safety measures

August 19, 2008 7:23:28 PM PDT
Another restaurant robbery in Oakland has some owners re-thinking how they do business. They're taking drastic measures to protect their restaurants, and their customers.

The latest robbery occurred at Pasta Pomodoro in the upscale Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland.

Most of the robberies occurred in areas more central to Oakland, so it came as a shock to Rockridge residents when one of their local restaurants was hit on Monday night.

Kristen Rickman moved to Rockridge six years ago from a small Midwestern town.

"I've treated Rockridge essentially the same way as that small town. I rarely lock my car door. I don't always lock the house door."

That's why last night's armed robbery of the Pasta Pomodoro shocked Rickman.

Two men, wearing hoodies and armed with handguns, burst into the restaurant just before closing time. They escaped with the evening's receipts. There were no customers at the time.

I mean they grabbed and threw me down,"

By coincidence, on Friday as we drove through Rockridge, we stumbled on a mugging by assailants who threatened to shoot a man if he didn't turn over his money.

It seems odd that crimes like this are happening in Rockridge. Officer Rufus Wright grew up in Oakland.

"Since I was a kid, this was always one of the safest areas," says Wright.

It now seems no business district is safe from the brazen armed robberies.

acias owns La Estrellita across town on East 12th Street. He says from now on, he'll lock the doors during business hours, letting in only people who look like diners.

"We view them. We open the door, let them in and we close the door."

"Do we recommend it? I don't think so," says Oakland Police Department spokesperson Jeff Thomason.

Thomason tells ABC7 the department is worried about racial profiling.

"What happens if they're wearing a hoodie sweatshirt and blue jeans? Are they going to let them in? Maybe they're just normal citizens."

Joseph Dayyat owns the Crepevine in Rockridge, just blocks away from the Pasta Pomodoro. He opened the restaurant in 1999. That year, Oakland had 2,189 felony robberies. Last year, there were 3,419 robberies, an increase of about one third in just the past eight years.

"Are we worried? Yes we're worried," says Dayyat.

Dayyat has installed security cameras, but says locking doors is bad business.

"It doesn't make sense. No, that's not business. Why not just stay at home and get deliveries, make it easy for you," says Dayyat.

We did speak to a spokesman with the Oakland Fire Department and he told us that it is a violation of the California fire code. He says "the doors of public business must stay unlocked when the business is occupied." We called the owner of the La Estrellita restaurant, but we got no response.


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