Oakland business owner moves to Alabama after break-in

OAKLAND, CA (KRON) – Last month, KRON4 introduced you to Derek Thoms. This summer, he moved to Alabama from the Bay Area.

He moved because his family-owned laundromat in the East Bay kept being broken into and stolen. Since our story aired, some of his laundromats have sold, but break-ins have continued at still-open laundromats, including one that left him scratching his head as police responded.

On August 31, vandals broke into Derek Thom’s East Oakland laundromat. He was able to watch the break-in in real time via security cameras and called 911. The police arrived but made no arrests or even attempted arrests.

Security cameras caught three vandals breaking into the laundromat on International Drive in East Oakland at midnight. Even if a pedestrian passes by, it is possible to escape using an ATM taken to a car outside.

Derek Thoms said his East Auckland business was targeted not once but twice on the same night. Five hours later, cameras caught two other people tossing and turning in the store before running wild with laptops in hand.

Thom’s security system alerted him to a break-in, and he called 911. Thoms told KRON4, “The police showed up and watched them drive away. I’m not surprised they didn’t chase them, but I’m surprised they made zero attempts. You just assume these guys are going to run away. If you at least turn on you what happens to the lights.”

When asked about their pursuit policy, Auckland Police responded to KRON 4 saying: “Only when there is a reasonable suspicion that the suspect is committing a violent crime and/or a crime involving the use of a firearm, or the probable cause of the suspect’s possession of a firearm.”

According to OPD, the August 31 burglary did not result in a vehicle pursuit. Thoms told KRON4, “I get that, but that was zero attempt at really doing anything. The guy on the street didn’t even try to run to the car and grab the guy.”

Thomas didn’t blame the police, but said the real problem was weak crime policies in Oakland and California. That’s why he moved his family to Alabama after his business had a truck back to their business and had windows smashed a dozen times.

“It’s only going to get worse until people decide to actually make the right decision and put people who deserve it in jail,” Thomas said. He told KRON4 that he’s holding off on selling his five remaining laundromats , because he would be taxed.

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But given the recent break-ins, he thinks it might be time to sell. “It’s only going to be long before it happens again,” he said.

Thom’s said insurance usually covers most, but not all, of the damages and losses he suffers during each break-in. He estimates he has spent about $100,000 this year.

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