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Brazen back-to-back burglaries hit East Bay businesses

Brazen back-to-back burglaries hit East Bay jewelry repair shop, gas station
Brazen back-to-back burglaries hit East Bay jewelry repair shop, gas station 03:42

OAKLAND -- East Bay police are investigating two brazen burglaries in two days and about four miles apart.

Surveillance footage obtained by KPIX showed thieves on Thursday using a van to rip out the front door and drag a safe out of Grand Jewelry Repair on Grand Avenue, near Lake Merritt in Oakland. That theft happened at around 3:45 a.m. Footage showed five burglars in two vehicles.

The store owner's son, Christopher Tran, said the thieves first pried a door open with a crowbar. Then, they attached a rope to the metal gate and pulled it off with a van.

Once inside the store, burglars used the same rope to try to drag a large safe out.

"But it snapped. So they took out a heavy metal chain, put that over the safe and that was when they were able to drag it out," Tran said.

It took the thieves quite a while to secure the heavy safe to the back of the van.

"The safe -- they couldn't quite get it into the utility truck. So it was dragging, so you see a bunch of sparks," Tran said. "As they were getting onto the freeway, P.D. was right behind them so I think that's why they kind of dropped it because it's heavy so it was weighing down the van."

The burglars took off and left the safe in the middle of the road. Police recovered the safe, which contained thousands of dollars in jewelry and watches.

The jewelry repair shop also experienced significant damage when the burglars dragged the safe through the store. The owner, Mr. Tran was in tears when he saw the damage on Thursday.

"This shop, 34 years, all my life in there. I raised my kids. But now, I don't know if we're going to come back," Mr. Tran said.

"Now, he's thinking about retirement. The only thing that sucks is it's more like a forced retirement because he doesn't feel safe," said the younger Tran.

It's the second costly burglary in three years at Grand Jewelry Repair. Tran, an immigrant who escaped the war in Vietnam, said they can't seem to escape the crime in Oakland.

"Thank you to all the customers and supporters until now, 34 years. Thank you very much," Mr. Tran said.


According to authorities, burglars used a stolen U-Haul truck to smash the glass doors of the Aisle 1 gas station market on Blanding Avenue in Alameda around 4:30 Friday morning. The thieves then used a chain to drag an ATM machine out of the store. 

"I feel kind of desensitized. I feel like this is kind of a normal occurrence in the Bay Area and it's sad to feel like that," said gas station customers David, who declined to provide his last name.

Alameda police said they were able to quickly recover the truck and the ATM in nearby Oakland. 

In both cases, the burglars got away.

The Tran family said these burglaries are killing small businesses.

"Similar to my parents, they bootstrapped up, we need leaders to bootstrap up. We need more hands on the ground, Actually lead, Doo something," said the younger Tran.

To prevent ATM burglaries, some Bay Area stores have removed ATM machines from their locations. Some stores also no longer accept cash. They only take credit and debit cards to discourage robberies.

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