EXCLUSIVE: East Bay family that moved out of CA after string of crimes targeted again

Here's why an Oakland business owner is questioning if police could have done more to prevent a burglary after he moved to Alabama

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ByDion Lim via KGO logo
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
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An East Bay family that moved to Alabama after their family's laundromats were repeatedly broken is dealing with more crime.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- An East Bay family that moved to Alabama after their family's laundromats were repeatedly broken is dealing with more crime. But this time, one incident in particular, where police spotted the crooks in action, is raising questions about chase policies.

When ABC7 introduced you to Derek Thoms in August, his family had moved to Muscle Shoals in Northwest Alabama. They were fed up with a number of issues: the break-ins, vandalizing, and burglaries of their various businesses. In a span of four days, there had been three break-in attempts.

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After our story aired the problems persisted. In a little over a week, Derek's laundromats were broken into multiple times. Including one incident where someone uses a wrench to smash through a front window and climb inside.

"It ended up being six out of the eight days," Derek said. "It was different people too which was weird too."

But it's a specific incident from Aug. 31 that's raising questions. At around midnight the ATM was stolen from Derek's sister's laundromat on International Boulevard near the Oakland Coliseum. You can even see the suspects load it into an awaiting sedan as a pedestrian walks right by.

But wait. There's more.

"Around 5 a.m. a different group came back and this time they broke into the office," Derek said via Zoom.

Derek's family, remotely from Alabama, monitored the situation and alerted Oakland Police.

"We stayed on the phone with them and gave them live updates," he said.

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An outside camera recording shows the suspects then run out and jump into an awaiting vehicle. An OPD car then pulled up, but didn't chase the suspects, which has Derek scratching his head.

"Here's an Oakland patrol car right there with the guy in it," he said. "They just let the car drive right off. You literally caught somebody red-handed and made zero attempt to turn on your lights or any of that stuff."

ABC7 reached out to OPD who said their chase policy is one of the strictest in the Bay Area. Officers in this case responded properly, under the department's vehicle pursuit policy. Chases can only happen when there's a reasonable suspicion of a violent forcible crime or suspicion a firearm is involved.

It's a precaution Derek understands, but he still wishes the police could have safely done more.

"This isn't at 5 p.m. during rush hour traffic, this isn't when kids are getting out of school," Derek said. "If you're chasing a car into a school zone, ok, let the car go it's not worth it. But at 5 a.m. who cares?"

Derek's family has since sold one of their laundromat locations in Alameda and still has no plans of coming back to California.

"You need police to stop these people, if you keep letting them go it's just going to keep happening," Derek said. "The way things are going now it's not sustainable. It's not good for the entire population of California."

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