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Violent Daytime Robberies Elevate Safety Fears In Oakland's Chinatown Neighborhood

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Following two violent daytime robberies in Oakland Chinatown, business owners said foot traffic in the business district was way down over the weekend. They suspected shoppers are worried about safety and are staying away until they feel safe to return.

The co-owner of New Gold Metal Restaurant, Chiu Li, is trying to restore customer confidence. He hired someone to install eight cameras outside of the restaurant on Saturday. That's on top of the cameras already installed inside. Workers also added more exterior lighting.

"We have a lot of cameras working, but (thieves) still come and break customer's (car) window," said Li.

Li said what's worse than car break-ins are violent robberies targeting shoppers.

"Past one or two days, customers are down," he said. "A lot of them may be afraid to come out."

The Thursday and Friday robberies happened at the same location, 9th and Harrison Streets. Many people witnessed the robberies. One man who tried to stop the Thursday robbery was pistol whipped.

"It's very scary. Scary for old people, scary for everybody," said a shopper who goes by Nancy. "We come in pairs, carry pepper spray. And then my girlfriend has a stun gun."

To help Chinatown residents and shoppers feel safe, Joanna Au with Protect Oakland Chinatown is working with a company to install surveillance cameras at businesses free of charge.

"What's happening is messed up," Au said. "And we're tired of it and we want to do something about it."

On Saturday, she teamed up with Magnolia Mini Mart and small businesses to fundraise to pay for the cameras.

"Yes, there a support of small vendors, but we're also here to support the community," said Janeen Perez of Kuali Salsas, a vendor who participated in the mini mart pop-up fundraiser. So I think it was win-win situation for all of us."

They hope more cameras will deter people from committing crime in Chinatown.

"We had a lot of people that came out today," Au said. "I'm so grateful. The community is amazing."

The fundraiser organizers said they are trying to add about 25 cameras in Chinatown.

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