Thug acted, but only one reacted

WE HAVE EYES, but we cannot see. How else can one explain the shocking daylight “smash and grab” at Montclair Village’s Wheels of Justice? When I wrote about this crime in my column last week, I only told half the story. A youth used a handgun to smash the shop’s window and road away on a bike, with a passer-by following in hot pursuit.

“That was my husband,” a friend of mine told me after she read my article. “He had the babies in the car and was chasing this guy but he lost him.”

The alert motorist, the only person who reacted when the thug smashed the window during the Monday morning commute, was Lynn Beckwith. He’s the same guy I wrote about earlier this year when he recovered a stolen motorcycle on his street (and found its owner).

Beckwith saw the guy smash the window and grab the bike, then followed him around the block until the thief disappeared behind Safeway. He said he realized his first job was to keep the babies safe, so he gave up the chase and called police. But where were the other witnesses? There were plenty of people, he said, on the streets drinking coffee. Why didn’t anyone else report the youth, who was caught on security camera repeatedly bashing the window until it shattered? We have eyes, but we cannot see. Or perhaps we see, but feel helpless to respond.

HIDDEN KITCHEN:: Readers have been asking about the building going up behind the Caldecott Tunnel on Fish Ranch Road. It looks like a home but in fact, is a test kitchen for recipes featuring California Bay leaves. Tamara Attard and her family own the land, which is zoned for agriculture and tucked between the EBMUD watershed and the East Bay Regional Parks.

“The government tried to take it through eminent domain,” she said, “but it was some of the last farm land in Orinda.”

Attard’s specialty spice company, Bayseng, is pushing California Bay as the world’s best bay.

“Better than Mediterranean,” she said, because California Bay has a kind of cinnamon flavor. She’s looking for recipes they can use to market their bay leaves, which grow all over the hills. If you have a favorite use for bay, shoot her an e-mail at

ALL SHOOK UP: Elvis had the perfect song to describe how I felt during last week’s earthquake. Working in one of Oakland’s historic old buildings, we were jolted out of our seats during what seemed like a full 30 seconds of shifting and swaying. It reminded me that many of us aren’t ready for the “big one” – but they are in Piedmont Pines. Several families in the neighborhood have bought emergency kits from Randi Lee’s home business, Early Bird Safety ( With everything you need for 72 hours, it seems like a smart, if not timely, idea.

WHERE’S WALDO?: Never mind Waldo – where are Benny and Harriet? The bunny and the guinea pig who have been living in a pen outside Studio Montclair have disappeared. Photographer Reenie Raschke says when the landlord complained, she moved them to her house, where they’re sharing a coop with five chickens.

“Benny is happier than he’s ever been,” said Raschke, who says her bunny rules the roost. But Raschke’s customers aren’t as thrilled. “Since he’s been gone, I’m not exaggerating, 35 people have come in, some sobbing, saying, ‘Where’s the bunny?'”


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