Crimes Darken Bright Community


IT’S A SUNNY Sunday in Montclair Village. Happy, smiling people are gathering at the usual “watering holes” — outside the coffee shops and along La Salle for the Farmers Market. Two guys are playing mandolin and guitar outside Peet’s, and a yellow lab and beagle mix is shaking paws outside Starbucks. The dog is running for mayor, so I give him my vote.

Montclair is such a welcoming place. It pains me to think of our vulnerabilities. But each time there’s a robbery, I find myself growing more guarded. Two armed gunmen hit up Crogans the other night. Word is, they scared a lot of people. It makes me angry when I think about how helpless those victims must have felt, and how it could have been any one of us in there that night.

What are we going to do about it? The merchants in the Glenview (where there were a spate of armed robberies recently) are on high alert – holding meetings and formulating a plan. But we need the Oakland Police Department’s help.

We need a beat cop who can walk the streets of our neighborhoods, day and night. And the only way we’ll get it — is to push for it. It’s time to start pushing.

HITTING HOME: Speaking of crime, a reader in Redwood Heights had her home broken into in broad daylight recently, despite the fact that her two dogs were barking and several neighbors were home.

“All of my jewelry was stolen, as well as my husband’s laptop and a digital camera,” she writes, adding that the burglar took several ofher grandmother’s rings as well as her mother’s charm bracelet. “Please remind your female readers not to hide jewelry in their underwear drawers, their nightstands, or in the closet inside handbags or shoe boxes,” she warns. “The thief went right to all of these places and dumped everything on the floor of the bedroom.”

More good advice — make sure your jewelry is listed on your homeowners insurance policy.

E-MAIL BAG: Whenever I write about Montclair’s traffic manners (or lack there-of) I get a flurry of response. One of the most interesting replies comes from reader Emily Sparks, who says she was parked in front of Head-Royce School when an AC Transit bus pulled up and some young people started shouting profanities at her. Then a girl pushed open her window and spit on Spark’s car.

“I was hurt, disgusted and alarmed,” she writes. “I have friends with children at Montera and Skyline, and they know this goes on; they avoid the buses completely.”

Sparks wonders what can be done. Probably the best thing to do is to call AC Transit and report any incidents. If enough people call, it may prompt the drivers to get involved when they see their young passengers acting out.

INTERNATIONAL FLAIR: Greek singer Margarita lit up the stage last weekend at the annual Greek Festival at Ascension Cathedral. A Berkeley native, the 28-year-old has caught fire in Greece since appearing on Greece’s hit TV show “Fame Story,” which is a little like our “American Idol.” After finishing in the top six, she and the other finalists performed throughout Greece and several other countries, making the cover of numerous magazines.

She has returned to the East Bay to make a name for herself in the U.S.

Irish singer Jack L. had his own hills performance this past Saturday night, in a benefit for the victims of the genocide in Darfur. A big star in Europe, Jack L. has a sister in Montclair and graciously agreed to sing at the fund-raiser at the Hills Swim Club. He was amazed at the warm reception and how everyone came together for such a faraway cause. A total of $42,000 was raised that night — an astounding amount — and a testimony to what a few friends can do when they set their mind to it.

PUNNY PLATE: Spotted in the lot at Willow Park Golf Course near Redwood Park, a car with the vanity plates “IH8GOLF”. Obviously, the driver is wrestling with his/her demons.

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