Despite crackdown on crime, many Oakland residents and businesses aren't seeing improvements

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Friday, December 22, 2023
Despite crackdown on crime, many aren't seeing improvements in Oakland
Despite the city touting its crackdown on crime, residents and businesses don't feel like they are seeing any improvements and want more to be done.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- It's a tale of two cities in Oakland.

On Thursday, Mayor Sheng Thao hosted a joint news conference with the city's police department.

There, they highlighted their efforts to make the city safer - specifically talking about the recent crackdown against retail and property crime, which saw commercial burglaries drop from 256 this time last year to 120 now.

EXCLUSIVE: Popular legacy donut shop in Oakland targeted in 2nd armed robbery this year

"The investments are starting to bear fruit as we have seen the decrease in the property crimes in the areas that we have actually stood up," said Mayor Thao.

On the streets of the city, however, those statistics are a tough sell.

On Sunday, Colonial Donuts was hit with its second armed robbery this year.

And on Tuesday, the Lululemon on Broadway was also robbed after a thief drove through its front door with a car.

That incident happened just minutes after Benner Automotive down the road says someone also broke into their shop - for the third time in the past three months.

Its owner, Michael Benner, with some strong words for the mayor.

"Maybe she should take less of a raise and try to get more police on the police force," he said.

According to Mayor Thao's office, Oakland has more officers than any time in the past two years. In January 2021 there were 690 officers on the force and as of December 2023, there are 724. Her office also notes that Mayor Thao has increased the number of police academies from four to six a year.

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An Oakland business is seeing an enormous uptick in customers requesting bulletproof glass due in part to crime in the city.

Retail and property crime in Oakland has become a key rallying cry for people like Carl Chan.

Chan runs SAFE, the group behind the push to recall Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price.

On Friday morning, he and other business owners in the city will hold a rally calling on public leaders to do more to stop crime.

"We want to emphasize that there has to be consequences when people are committing crimes. And especially all of these repeat offenders," Chan said.

It's not just local businesses that are increasingly worried about crime. Many Oakland residents tell ABC7 News they've also had enough.

EXCLUSIVE: Oakland father considers moving family after stray bullet shoots through kitchen window

That includes LaVonn Johnson, a lifelong Oakland resident who says crime is now impacting the everyday lives of everyone who lives in the city.

"All the stores are closing. Like they had to close Target. Now we got to go all the way to Emeryville, you know, just to get basic stuff," Johnson said.

Both OPD and Mayor Thao acknowledge that despite statistics, public perception is a key component of making people feel safe.

"One is too many. These are our community members, our businesses. We rely upon them and they rely upon us," said OPD Deputy Chief James Beere.

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