Oakland restaurant manager details smash-and-grab theft similar to one that killed popular baker

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Oakland restaurant worker calls for action after smash-and-grab theft
Oakland restaurant manager details smash-and-grab robbery similar to one that killed Angel Cakes owner Jen Angel.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- It's been a week since an Oakland baker went to the bank and was fatally injured trying to stop thieves who'd broken into her car.

Jen Angel, the founder of Angel Cakes, died last Thursday.

After watching that story an Oakland restaurant manager says she was also the victim of a similar smash-and-grab crime last month.

RELATED: Oakland bakery owner dies from injuries after being dragged by suspect's car during robbery: Family

Owner of popular Angel Cakes bakery has died after being in a medically-induced coma after being dragged 50 feet during Oakland robbery.

Leah Beneze has worked in the restaurant industry since she was a teenager. But she says, what's happening in Oakland right now, is something she has never experienced before.

"I have worked in the restaurant industry since I was 16 years old. And I have been a manager for 20 of them. I have never felt so insecure or threatened in this industry, working in Oakland," she Beneze, who is currently the general manager at the popular Brenda's Oakland restaurant.

When Beneze learned about the circumstances around the death of Angel, she immediately thought, "Holy crap, that happened to me! Same MO. Same everything."

Angel died Thursday from injuries she sustained following a smash-and-grab near the Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Oakland. She was dragged 50 feet by the getaway car that she chased after.

RELATED: Family of Oakland baker seeks 'restorative justice' for her death following robbery

Beneze was a victim of a smash-and-grab robbery in January, while she was at the bank as well, just half a mile away from the restaurant.

"I go to the bank, I do what I got to do. As I am getting into my car, I lock it. A masked man, armed masked man, grabs my purse. I try to grab it, but I couldn't get it. So jump out of my car. They were blocking my vehicle. I grab onto the handle. And I'm like, you know what, at this point, what can I do," explains Beneze.

She says the thieves took money. They used her credit cards. They took her ID, so they knew where she works and lives.

"I am a mother of two. What if I had my kids with me? What if my kids were in the car with me? It just brings your whole sense of security - gone!" she says.

A week before she was robbed, her restaurant was hit. It was all caught on surveillance video.

MORE: Smash-and-grab thieves target family headed to Oakland airport, steal their luggage

Thieves break into family's car as they head to Oakland International Airport and steal all of their luggage.

She says over the past six months there has been an increase in smash-and-grabs happening along Broadway, and in broad daylight. She says they have filed police reports and shared surveillance video with the police, but claims that nothing has been done.

Beneze says Angel's robbery shows that smash-and-grabs are happening around the city. She says Angel's death gives these types of crimes a sense of urgency and should be taken as a call to action.

"I don't know if (police) are short-handed, or just burglaries and robberies are not number one on their list at the moment. But a lot of us restaurant owners, we are on high alert. I mean three on this block, one behind us, Burger King behind us. We are all getting hit. And it's like our sense of security is gone," says Beneze, as she points to the various locations.

The Oakland Police Department and the City of Oakland did not respond to requests for comment.

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