Three Cars Burgled During Community Crime Meet

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Thursday evening can be a noisy time for a meeting in the Library's upstairs meeting room when the voices of pedestrians on the sidewalk drift up through the windows. Still, distinctive sounds can rise above the hubbub, distracting some meeting attendees from the topic. Late in the Thursday, June 18, Town Hall meeting, as Oakland Police Lt. Randy Brandwood began to describe the effects of Proposition 47 on criminal activity - lesser penalties for non-violent crimes such as car burglary - a woman heard a noise, looked into the Library parking lot, and cried, "Hey! Hey! Hey! They're doing it now!" The audience moved to the windows and OPD Community Resource Officer (CRO) Anthony Hutzol ran down the stairway as a dark-hued car, revving hard, roared out the driveway onto College Avenue, burning rubber all the way. Hutzol returned: "They got away. I could hear them saying, ÔGo! Go! Go!'" Police determined three cars had been burgled for the loss of a computer each from two of them, and no loss from the third. The thefts proved earlier points made several times by Lt. Brandwood, who said he, himself, had been a car burglary victim: "Leave nothing in your car; leave your car locked, even if you plan to be gone for only a short while."

For the meeting itself, Lt. Brandwood and CRO Hutzol had joined panel members Chantal Cotton, city of Oakland Measure Z Oversight; Karen Ivy, NCPC Secretary; and David Lorie, Safer Rockridge organization, for a presentation on "How to be Safe in Rockridge," moderated by Zabrae Valentine, RCPC Co-Chair.

For several reasons, police speakers said, Rockridge robberies and burglaries are down (generally) while car burglaries are up. Karen Ivy seconded that, saying recent NCPC statistics showed 13 cars burgled in one week. "And that doesn't count the BART lots," Brandwood said. Reduced penalties for non-violent crime, the ease of breaking car windows, and the likelihood of escape make car burglary appealing to thieves. "They can break the window, grab the goods and be gone, all in 17 seconds," Brandwood said.

But Oakland also offers another side to being safe in Rockridge.

Chantal Cotton discussed specific city programs and services funded by Measure Z, the Safety Services Act, which include Ceasefire and Oakland Unite. The program also provides funding for police and fire operations, including money for CRO officers and Crime Reduction Teams. There is a social services side of Measure Z designed to work with those who want to leave the life of crime behind.

David Lorie, a founder of Safer Rockridge patrol service, told how he and other concerned Rockridge residents, dismayed by the amount of crime, formed the crowd-funded unarmed area patrol service that would serve all the residents of Rockridge. According to analysis done by a member of the founding group, the patrols have been a factor in the general overall reduction of crime in Rockridge.

For more information about the programs discussed above, see these web sites:

¥ Measure Z: http://ballotpedia.org/;

¥City_of_Oakland_Police_Services_Parcel_Tax_and_Parking_Tax,_Measure_Z_(November_2014)

¥ Oakland Unite: http://oaklandunite.org/

¥ Safer Rockridge: http://saferrockridge.org/

¥ Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council (NCPC): http://www.rockridgencpc.com/