OAKLAND – A spate of burglaries that targeted an entire Oakland shopping center in a single night has left business owners frustrated with local law enforcement.
The fed-up business owners said they can’t rely on Oakland police for protection, so they’re trying to come up with their own solutions.
After the first burglar alarm went off Monday morning, Oakland police admitted it took officers close to three hours to arrive at the businesses in Oakland’s Little Saigon district.
“I was in shock. Shock, a little crazy,” said Simon Liu, owner of V & J Fusion Restaurant.
Not just angry at the thieves, but also angry at the police.
“I just want to know why they came, like two hours later,” Liu said.
Liu said the slow response times send an invitation to burglars to hit every Oakland business.
“Police are not really reliable. Call them, they don’t come,” Liu said.
Surveillance footage showed a group of people cutting holes and entering most of the businesses from the roof.
Nolan Wong, owner of Coin Laundromat, said his alarm went off at 4:32 a.m. The alarm company sent a notification to Oakland police. A police spokesman confirmed the information and said that because they receive so many alarm messages, the alarm coming from the laundry was put on a low priority list.
Police said a Cantonese speaker called 911 at 6:11 a.m. to report the burglary. They said because of the language barrier, the officers thought the burglars had already left. So that burglary report was also put on a low priority list.
Surveillance footage showed the burglars ransacked all seven businesses in the mall and left around 10 p.m. 06.30, two hours after they first broke in. They took their time, even with the alarm in the background.
Oakland police said officers showed up at 7:24 a.m. Almost three hours after the first alarm was raised, and more than an hour after the first 911 call.
Oakland police said officers dealt with multiple shootings Monday morning. They were also tied by a homicide in East Oakland and a shooting at Oakland Tech High School from Sunday. The department said they sent officers as quickly as they could and that the response time to the strip mall was actually decent compared to other burglaries.
“I think it’s really sad that it’s taking so long for the police to respond,” said Jim Nguyen, a Little Saigon community organizer and member of The Unity Council.
Nguyen and the affected business owners met with a law enforcement expert on Friday to talk about strategies to prevent future burglaries.
They are looking at installing gates in the small space and adding big, bright lights for night vision.
“We’re talking to business owners about having network cameras, network lights and really upping the game here so we can monitor this area properly and hopefully watch it 24/7,” Nguyen said.
While Liu thought the meeting was helpful, he said they need the police to step up and do better.
“We’re just all small businesses trying to make it. We definitely need protection because when incidents like this happen, people are afraid to come over here. And that’s bad for business,” Liu said.
Due to recent robberies and shootings in the Little Saigon District, the Oakland Police Department has assigned a liaison officer to the area. The department says they are down 73 officers for a total of 653 police officers serving the city.