Caught on camera: Oakland bookstore hit by bizarre smash-and-grab theft of handful of books

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Friday, November 3, 2023
Caught on camera: Oakland bookstore hit by bizarre smash and grab
Oakland's Marcus bookstore was hit by a bizarre smash-and-grab theft when the suspect broke a window and stole $80 worth of books.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Owners of a small Oakland bookstore featuring Black authors are dealing with a puzzling break-in. Recently, a well-dressed suspect was caught on camera smashing the store's window but what they took is the real mystery. It's not the first break-in to happen there.

"We are a nationally known institution, so we'd like to get a little more respect," said Blanche Richardson.

Richardson says her family-owned business, Marcus Books in Oakland, deserves better after a puzzling smash-and-grab burglary on Sunday.

The crime was caught on the store's security camera, showing a well-dressed person breaking the window and then helping themselves to some reading material.

MORE: Oakland police pilot program using social media to stop car break-ins abruptly ends

"And then, when you look at him how calmly he just takes the book out of the window and then walks away," Richardson said.

Richardson says the suspect only took four books and used a 10-pound piece of asphalt to bust the window.

"I can't explain that, except the window was $1,200 and the books were $80. I don't think he was on drugs. I don't think he was drunk. He was Black so hopefully he's not a hater," she said.

During the break-in, the thief also broke a stain glass panel, made by Blanche's brother Billy.

MORE: Alameda County DA Pamela Price's work laptop stolen during car burglary in Oakland, sources say

"Somebody destroys your artwork, you have to take it personally since it's a family business. All our pains are shared," said Billy Richardson.

Their parents opened the store in the 1960s as one of the first bookstores in the Bay Area to feature works by Black authors.

She says there have been other break-ins at her store in the past.

"It's the wild, wild west out there now. Seems people don't expect any consequences. We're just another target," Blanche Richardson said.

MORE: Oakland business owners go on strike amid crime spike, call for meeting with Gov. Newsom

Burglaries in Oakland appear to be on the rise. Oakland Police say as of Nov. 1, there have been 14,764 burglaries in the city, 11,138 for this time last year and, for all of 2022, there were 11,687 burglaries reported.

Blanche says, so far OPD has not responded to the police report she filed online. She says the FBI was helpful several years ago when the bookstore received threatening phone calls from out of state.

"I called the FBI and got a response they are collaborating with the OPD to see if we can find this guy," she said.

A spokesperson from FBI's San Francisco bureau confirmed it's in contact with bookstore owners but did not offer more details.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live