Our August 2017 Crime report noted a peculiar trend, the snatching robbery of laptops at Starbucks and other cafes in our city. KRON4 reporter Stanley Roberts apparently took note of this trend and spotlighted it in his latest People Behaving Badly report.
The segment including surveillance video of a robbery at the Powell Street Plaza Starbucks location on Christie Avenue. The video shows a male with a hoodie over his head lingering at the front of the store before lurching at a customers laptop and dashing off with the victim in pursuit.
The Christie location alone has been a target of this type of robbery at least seven times this year and the city has seen at least 14 incidents at 4 different cafe locations. The piece also spotlights similar incidents at Starbucks in Alameda and Alamo.
“Obviously this is a phenomenon that has been going on in the Bay Area” noted Emeryville PD Captain Oliver Collins. Collins recommended patrons be more aware of their situation including sitting in the rear of the store and use of cable locks when using their devices.
The piece noted that Starbucks is not the only victim of this trend as Black Diamond Cafe was also a recent victim. Black Diamond owner Dave Ung described the recent incident he witnessed in the segment. “Five gentlemen with hoodies at about 2:30 in the day,” Ung recounted. “Then I heard a customer scream ‘Noooo!’ ” noting the thieves ran off with two laptops.
Proposition 47, passed as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” was written with the intention of providing second chances to those convicted of crimes. Prop 47 is often cited by law enforcement agencies as the reason for the resurgence of these and other property crimes including our surge in auto burglaries (Auto burglaries are in fact up 60% in Emeryville from 2016). This law effectively reduced the penalty of these crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor enabling repeat offenses with little threat of incarceration or incentive to enter drug rehabilitation programs.
Councilmember John Bauters, who works as a lobbyist for the organization that authored Prop 47, proposed at the September 5th council meeting that our city oppose reforms to the law which is supported by the League of Cities. Measure AB 1326, authored by Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) cited the “unintended consequence of incentivizing career criminals to take advantage of criminal justice reforms meant to prevent low-level offenders from receiving lengthy jail sentences” as the need for these reforms.
Bauters, despite overseeing a 16% increase in crime in his own city, cited data suggesting crime is actually on the decline in the state. The Public Policy Institute notes violent crime is in fact up from 2016 but varies dramatically by region and despite recent increases, remains at overall historic lows.
The rest of council expressed support for our voting delegate, represented by Councilmember Ally Medina, to oppose these reforms at an upcoming League of California Cities conference.