The only way liquor store clerk Ahmed Eraja and his coworkers could stop a blatant thief was to tackle the man themselves.
“Where are the police in this whole thing?” Ken Batista, the co-anchor at San Francisco TV KPIX 5, asked his colleague Da Lin.
“That’s a good question,” Lin responded. “This is not the first time this store has been targeted. That’s why this time they were not going to let the bad guys go. They say typically the police department doesn’t respond to this kind of petty crime so they took matters into their own hands.”
‘It’s Like We’re in the Wild West’
Not even surveillance camera footage of a man blatantly taking three bottles of champagne off the shelves of the Ideal Market could get police to act, Eraja alleged. Eraja said the man had entered the store several times before and taken merchandise, and police failed to respond.
“It’s like we’re in the Wild Wild West,” Eraja said of his neighborhood. Eraja got fed up and took matters into his own hands when the man waved a stolen champagne bottle in front of his face. Eraja and coworkers chased the man down and took the bottle away. The man tried to take the bottle back, so Eraja sprayed him with mace before his coworkers tackled him to the ground.
“It doesn’t feel good but you know something has to be done about it. Otherwise it’s going to get worse and worse,” Eraja told the station.
Oakland police don’t respond to calls about shoplifting, Eraja alleged. He made the footage available to Lin who broadcast it on the nightly news.
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“He’s walking out like he’s a tough guy and nobody can stop him,” Eraja said of the thief. The unidentified suspect lives in the neighborhood, and police could have easily tracked him down and arrested him, Eraja said. Yet officers apparently did nothing.
Police Refused to Investigate Robbery
This is not the first time cops have ignored aggressive criminal activity at the Ideal Market, Eraja said. Detectives did not even bother to take surveillance camera footage of an aggressive robbery at the Ideal Market two years ago to use as evidence.
Lin played some of that footage, which shows masked crooks jumping over a counter and tearing up the store on TV. Police did not respond to Eraja’s complaints — but an elected official did.
“This type of lawless activity will not be tolerated,” Oakland City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf said of the theft to KPIX. The police are trying to investigate more crimes by hiring civilian employees to review surveillance tape footage of crimes, Schaaf claimed.
Ironically enough, police told the TV station that they could not examine the surveillance tape nor a YouTube video of Eraja and his colleagues tackling the thief — because they were too busy with a demonstration in downtown Oakland.
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