Oakland's plague of business robberies continued this week with a brazen caravan traveling in multiple vehicles — or possibly multiple crews — that hit at least 20 businesses in multiple commercial districts early Thursday.
Oakland police were investigating over a dozen commercial burglaries Thursday in multiple areas, and KTVU reported that at least seven additional businesses were hit in Chinatown early that morning that had not yet filed police reports.
"For us to be hit like this and see some of our neighboring businesses hit as well, it is absolutely appalling and gut-wrenching," says Darlene Wong of Lounge Chinatown, speaking to KTVU.
The restaurant at 366 8th Street in Oakland was broken into, and the cash register there was broken open and tossed to the ground.
Per KTVU, "Surveillance videos show caravans of thieves pulling up in vehicles, using tools and taking their time breaking into shops."
As ABC 7 reports, "Those involved in the crime were caught on surveillance video using bolt cutters, a hammer mallet, and a reciprocating saw to bust inside."
Lounge Chinatown serves food late in the neighborhood, and the thieves apparently targeted it right after it had closed.
"They waited until this restaurant closed at three, before they came in and started ransacking the restaurant," says Steward Chen of Oakland's Chinatown Improvement Council, speaking to ABC 7.
One has to ask where the police might have been in these early morning hours — video shows the thieves taking more than 10 minutes to bust the lock on the front gate with bolt cutters and ultimately a hammer.
Chen says that Chinatown needs more police patrols.
Video footage also shows one individual entering the place with a gun drawn.
Elsewhere in the city, beauty salons, coffee shops, and convenience stores were all hit by thieves in the early morning hours of Thursday.
"We do believe there may be a particular group that may be responsible for several of [the burglaries], but not all of them, so we have multiple crews that are doing these robberies," says Oakland Police Captain David Elzey, speaking to KTVU.
Thursday's wave of commercial burglaries come after two years of similarly brazen crimes targeting Oakland small businesses. Thieves trying to rob Oakland bakery owner Jennifer Angel during a bank errand last month ended up dragging her with their car, resulting in fatal injuries. Another Oakland restaurant manager said thieves used the same m.o. to snatch her purse at the same bank, and her business had just been robbed a week earlier. Last year, a group of thieves was seen on video using an SUV to ram through a roll-up door in order to rob a cannabis dispensary.
The Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce held a community meeting with police Friday this morning, and the police have said they will increase patrols.