Neighborhood Crime Watch – 24/7

CRIME IN the hills. Some folks say it’s the cost of living in Oakland. Others get mad. Still others get even. I like the third kind of person, who doesn’t just sit on their hands and complain, but actually works with police to drive out the thugs. Read on, and you’ll see what I mean.

You won’t see these stories in the crime blotter, or the news section of the paper, but you will see them here in the Town Crier. Let’s start with the Skyline neighbors on Melville and Holyrood drives, who’ve got their eyes peeled 24/7. While most folks are watching TV or reading at night, Roger Vickery says his neighbors are taking turns looking for vandals and thieves.

“These night owls act as the eyes and ears for the neighborhood and the Oakland police,” he says. “They’ve reported stolen vehicles to the OPD, identified suspicious-appearing cars cruising our streets, and encouraged some loitering teens to go head on home.”

It seems to be working. Not only is crime down here, the neighbors tracked down the owner of a stolen motorcycle that had been dumped on the street.

“One of our early-rising neighbors, Lynn Beckwith, spotted it,” Vickery said. The name of the dealership was on the bike and when Beckwith called, they put him in touch with the owner, he said.

“Turns out it was a neighbor on a nearby street who was very happy to get the bike back,” Vickery said. Everyone wins with a neighborhood crime watch. Everyone, that is, except the thief.

Then there’s the case of the stolen Coach purse outside Barbara Ganzkow’s hills home. It was taken, in broad daylight, from the seat of her car. Oakland police said they’d take a report within 48 hours but Ganzkow got lucky. An alert clerk at Albertsons in El Cerrito called police when two teens tried to use her credit card.

“The El Cerrito police found me by calling the last number in my cell phone,” said Ganzkow, who says they arrested the suspects and returned her purse, cell phone, and all but one credit card. It kind of gives you a warm fuzzy — doesn’t it? The moral of these stories is to never give up. If you’re a victim, report the crime. Start a patrol. Work with your neighbors and police. And never underestimate the power of a lucky break.

SHOP TALK: Remember the rubber chickens and vintage gifts that the Montclair Malt Shop used to sell along with ice cream? The old owner, Maurine Marie, says she sold most of her inventory to a cute little place in El Cerrito called Antiques D’Jour & Floral Shoppe. If you stop by, be sure to grab a slice of pie at the yummy Fatapple’s restaurant. It’s a stone’s throw away from the shop at the top of Fairmount Avenue.

KID COOKS: The little school in the redwoods, Canyon School, has just finished its annual middle school internship program. It’s a great way for students to get practical job experience by helping out at a local business on Wednesday afternoons.

Chris Rossi’s popular Rockridge restaurant, Citron, was especially generous — not only hosting two interns, but feeding them a gourmet meal at the end of each shift. What better way to get to a kid’s brain — then through their stomach?

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Speaking of Canyon, it was odd to see a traffic jam in the normally quiet enclave the other day. A production company was shooting a commercial for Dodge trucks along Pinehurst, and police had the road blocked off for a time. It was Hollywood in the redwoods, and not everyone was star struck. With gas selling for $3.29 a gallon, it’s hard to get excited about a truck that can pull a backhoe.


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