When the season goes sour


MONTCLARION: DECEMBER 18,2009

‘TIS THE SEASON “… to get ripped off. Every year we hear the warnings: Don’t leave your valuables in the car. But we mess up anyway, and the bad guys know this.

Consider the recent rash of auto break-ins at Redwood Regional Park (Skyline Gate) and the nearby Hills Swim Club. Most have occurred in broad daylight, when it’s clear that the victims are going for a walk or a workout. In the time it takes to count to 10, the car window is shattered and the goods are grabbed “… everything from packages to purses to laptops.

The creepy thing is — the suspect or suspects are apparently hiding in the bushes.

“Someone (is) watching for valuables left behind,” says Shelly Lewis of the park district. “We use our public safety and also volunteer trail safety patrol in those areas when we can,” but so far there’ve been no arrests.

The answer is simple, really. Don’t give these thieves the opportunity. What you can’t take with you on your workout should be left at home.

E-MAIL BAG: Thanks to reader Mary Theroux for letting me know about the kindness displayed recently by the staff at Montclair’s Wheels of Justice. She went in to buy a bike for the Salvation Army’s Angel Giving Tree and says Mike and the guys really went the extra mile. Not only did they bump up their assembly time to get the bike ready before Christmas, they drove up to Marin County to pick up a part. Want to help with your own act of kindness? The Oakland Salvation Army needs donations more than ever, this year. Call 510-437-9437.

AROUND TOWN: Crogan’s is shaking things up in the kitchen, with new head chef Robert Hopkin (formerly at Bellanico on Park Boulevard). Hopkin is a local guy — born and raised in Piedmont and trained at the California Culinary Academy before honing his skills in Thailand and across Southeast Asia. He’s already making his mark at the restaurant and pub he used to visit as a child, lowering prices (with slightly smaller portions) and buying local and organic produce. But Robert’s signature dish is seafood and the mustard-tarragon salmon is hands-down my new favorite at Crogan’s. He’s even tweaked the bar menu, with fresh Dungeness crab cakes and hearty servings of pork belly nachos, half-off — as always — during happy hour.

ANIMAL TALES: If there’s one bird that knows how to ruffle feathers, it’s the turkey. In fact, more than a few motorists were miffed by three toms and 10 hens that regularly stopped traffic last month in Piedmont Pines. But suddenly, in the days before Christmas, most of the flock has disappeared. Reader Jack Bannon wonders if it has anything to do with a recent visit by Oakland PD, in which an officer took mug shots of the birds as they surrounded the squad car. If the turkeys were rounded up, then justice (and possibly dinner) has been served. After all, says Bannon, the birds did run “afowl” of the law.

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