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Business owners exasperated after burglars target shops along Oakland's popular Temescal Alley

Oakland business owners becoming inured to crime
Oakland business owners becoming inured to crime 03:10

Security cameras didn't do much to scare off burglars who ransacked multiple small businesses in Oakland's Temescal Alley overnight. 

The alley is part of a trendy shopping area in North Oakland. People who own shops there arrived Friday morning to find broken glass and missing merchandise.

"Just another day for an Oakland business owner," said a visibly frustrated Liz Thayer.

For Thayer, Friday's order of business was to sit and await a police response instead of working to create and sell custom outerwear and goods at her shop, Claflin, Thayer & Co. 

"They cleared out a lot of the inventory in my shop," she explained. "Most of it is things I make by hand that take a lot of time and work. So super bummed." 

Thayer's business was one of three shops in the popular East Bay location that were broken into early Friday morning. In surveillance video, thieves can be seen scaling a fence and nonchalantly strolling down the alley as they decided which stores to target.

Video provided a clear image of at least one of the suspects. Property manager Danny Paredes had to think hard when asked about how many times the shops on Temescal Alley have been broken into.

"I'd say more than seven times. And we've got police reports, but there's nothing being done," said Paredes.

The shop owners agreed. Thayer was particularly unenthusiastic when police finally arrived while she was being interviewed.

"Oh, here come the cops right now," she said with a look of exasperation on her face.

Police arrived over two hours after getting called Friday morning, but in Oakland, that's not unusual.

"One day I call them and they show up around four," said Paredes.

But at this point, the best police can do is take a report. And the best shop owners can do is clean up the mess they'd left untouched while awaiting officers in the hopes that they might find crucial evidence. 

Fortunately for Wes Allen, the owner of outdoor clothing and equipment shop Understory, it's a tight community. 

"Everybody supports each other and we look after each other," he said.

The owner of Mira Flores Vintage Clothing is out of town, leaving boyfriend Isaac Star to deal with the mess.

"Besides the broken window, it looks like they stole all of our jewelry," said Star. "We're not quite sure what else is not here yet, so we're going to have to do some inventory."

To say the latest break-in was frustrating is stating the obvious. For these shop owners, their attitude is approaching reluctant acceptance

"This has just become a regular part of life for everyone who owns a business in Oakland," said Thayer with a sigh.

Whether or not to stay in Oakland is increasingly becoming part of the conversation. 

"I don't want to cash in my chips just yet, but the conversation has happened," admitted Star.

"Possibly. I've lived here my whole life," said Thayer. "I was born and raised in the East Bay. it's definitely something I'd consider, so yeah."

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