OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Business owners in Oakland describe going to work like it's a 'war zone' - battling consistent waves of violent crime. New data shared with the ABC7 News I-Team reveal a significant increase in robberies and carjackings so far this year.
"Oakland has become a war zone," said Bruce Vong, long-time owner of Quality Tech Automotive Shop along International Blvd.
"It feels like a battleground to go to work."
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Vong says business owners in East Oakland close their doors at 3 p.m. because the crime is getting out of control.
"It's like a ghost town," Vong said. "It's scary."
According to data obtained by the I-Team, there were 15 different robberies and two carjackings across the city just this past weekend. To put that in perspective, there's been a 27% increase in robberies year-to-date from 2022 to 2023. And a 19% increase in carjackings year-to-date so far this year.
In some cases - cars stolen right off the dealership lot in Oakland. That's what happened with this Mercedes Benz SUV that was later found dumped on a street in Alameda Friday night.
"That's life in Oakland now," he said.
It's sadly no surprise to Vong, who's the owner of 11 businesses across the city. He says each of them are robbed nearly every week.
Last week he got fed up. And decided to chase after them.
"I was helping my employees pick up stranded Triple A drivers and within seconds my tow truck was gone," he said.
Vong says a person jumped in the tow truck, destroyed all the camera systems inside and took off with it. But the suspect didn't realize Vong's phone was still inside.
"Since my phone was there I could track the truck's location," he said. "We chased him for at least 45 minutes from West Oakland to East Oakland to Berkeley and we finally stop him at Telegraph and 30th."
Vong got his tow truck back but it needed $20,000 worth of repairs.
"We asked for help but there's no authority to help out," he said. "We tried calling OPD - no answer - so CHP showed up. It's just ridiculous Oakland is no longer Oakland anymore."
Councilmember Noel Gallo says he's aware of at least four other auto body shops in East Oakland that have been impacted by these robberies. He says two of them have shut down.
"I myself am leaving Oakland, because this city has no laws," Vong said. "And the city isn't doing enough, we're at the stage where we need help from the outside."
Michelle Sit, the Assistant Principal at Achieve Academy in Oakland, says she's contemplated leaving too. Just last week she dealt with the same problem.
"I came out of work at around 5 p.m. and I got to where my car was and it's gone," she said. "Unfortunately it was stolen, this is the fourth time it's happened."
Sit said the next day another robbery and assault took place right in front of the school where a man was beaten in the head and brought into the school lobby for help.
School staff sent an email to police saying: "Staff, students and families are being targeted by these masked men in cars who are carrying pistols and just keep returning. We need more support with patrols in this area especially during school and afterschool hours."
Neighbors across Oakland want the same - more police to crackdown on violent crime. The ABC7 News I-Team tried to speak with OPD about this but the department told us they were unavailable for an interview.
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