Oakland Chinatown merchants demand change after string of burglaries

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Saturday, March 25, 2023
Oakland Chinatown merchants demand change after burglaries
After a rash of eight burglaries in Oakland's Chinatown, an emergency meeting was held with business owners to talk about their security concerns.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- After a rash of eight burglaries early Thursday morning in Oakland's Chinatown, an emergency meeting was held Friday morning with business owners to talk about their security concerns.

"It's not an opportunity to be quiet," Darlene Wong, a spokesperson for Lounge Chinatown said.

Lounge Chinatown was one of the eight businesses hit and it was all caught on their security cameras.

VIDEO: 8 Oakland Chinatown businesses burglarized by group of thieves

Eight Oakland Chinatown businesses were ransacked and burglarized by a group of thieves Thursday morning, and it was caught on surveillance video.

Wong says their damage is adding up to at least $36,000.

"It looks like to me, it's like a flash mob, they're very organized," Francis Lan, president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce said.

Business owners like Albert Wong of the New Oakland Pharmacy, which has been burglarized at least five times over the past two years, are now coming together to demand change.

"I would like to see the OPD (Oakland Police Department) to have somebody patrol or stationed in Chinatown in the middle of the night, not just daytime," Wong said.

In an emergency meeting held for these concerned business owners by the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce Friday morning, many had questions for police.

"How come the police did not come, I mean with that many break-ins?" Wong asked. "With that long duration in that area? How come no police respond? I'm very surprised on that."

But they didn't show up, after finding out it had turned into a press conference, according to the Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council.

"This is really a failure of city government when our community's not protected," Lan said.

EXCLUSIVE: Elderly couple assaulted, robbed day after Christmas in Oakland's Chinatown

And some of the businesses that were burglarized, haven't been able to reopen as they are still waiting on investigators.

"We are still waiting for an evidence tech to come out, that's the latest, and until then we possibly have some more damages that we need to assess and accumulate before we can reset our restaurant to reopen," Darlene Wong, spokesperson for Lounge Chinatown said.

And community members, like Lynette Lan, says because of this, she's now avoiding Chinatown in the afternoons and evenings.

"It happens anytime, everywhere in Oakland Chinatown, right now, I just don't feel safe to walk around here," Lan said. "The police and the city of Oakland, they should do something to help the community."

ABC7 reached out to Oakland police about this issue and while they declined our interview request, in their own video statement, they said they are taking steps to cut down the number of burglaries.

"Patrol staff and field teams will be redeployed to these business districts where these burglaries are occurring in an effort to combat these burglaries from occurring," Capt. David Elzey, a spokesman for the Oakland Police Department said.

Meanwhile, the Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council has vowed to work toward eventually adding more nighttime security in the area.

"I think if we don't collectively come together as a community and advocate, then it will be harder to get the support," Darlene Wong said.

Mayor Sheng Thao's Office has released the following statement:

"Our office has been in touch with the Oakland Police Department and Commanders at OPD have deployed additional officers to areas that have experienced an increase in burglaries. Additionally, our staff has been directly in touch with several of the businesses to assist them in filing reports. Finally, OPD encourages residents and business owners to consider installing security cameras and alarms. These technologies can both deter crime and help solve crimes after they occur."

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