Town Crier: Smash-grab thefts reported by Montclair Elementary

MONTCLARION: Sept 3, 2015

School bells are ringing again at Montclair Elementary School, but it seems students aren’t the only ones learning a lesson. Several unsuspecting parents have reportedly been victims of smash-and-grab crimes since opening day on Aug. 24.

Leaving purses and computers in the car, even out of sight, is inviting trouble — especially if thieves are watching. And it seems they are watching, probably from nearby cars parked strategically, so the perpetrators can disappear onto the freeway.

Principal Nancy Bloom is urging anyone parking near Montclair Park or the elementary school to take valuables with them when they escort kids into the classroom.

Listserv buzz: Neighbors along Evergreen and Skyline are wondering if someone has a thing against moms. A retaining wall that long featured a painting of earth with the words “Mom First” has suddenly seen its message wiped out. Is the stealth artist changing the message or is this an attempt to make Mother Nature gender-neutral?

Nature calls: How bad is Bay Bridge maze traffic these days? A passenger was spotted jumping from a transporter cab and disappearing over the center divide for a good two minutes … only to return and find the van hadn’t moved — even in the FasTrak lane. It was apparently a pit stop — and if that doesn’t make you want to take BART, nothing will.

Wishful thinking: A sun-baked September has a lot of us praying for rain as we look skyward — toward our roofs. Reader Kelly Powers says her husband’s company, Excelsior Roofing, is getting inundated with requests for roof inspections in the wake of reports that a Godzilla El Niño may rear its ugly head. It may be time to batten down the hatches.

News note: As Pope Francis prepares for his visit to the East Coast, at least one of his messages is reverberating locally. It’s the controversy over whether the founder of the California mission system deserves sainthood.

As a former San Francisco morning news anchor on KSFO, I remember the last time Junipero Serra was in the news. His 26-foot-tall statue and rest stop had long been a landmark on Interstate 280 in Hillsborough, but by the early 1990s the site had — shall we say — fallen from grace.

It was about this time that an “angel” came onto the scene. A county worker named Jerry Morissette, who transformed the rest stop from a garbage and graffiti infested pit into a beautiful botanical garden with flowers and fruit trees.

Morissette was a former monk, and he cared for the site as if Serra himself had sent him — living in a storage shed and welcoming weary travelers with fresh coffee. It was touching and tender and showed the respect one man had for this padre.

Does Father Serra deserve sainthood? Some will say no. But the image of him kneeling as he points west across the interstate reminds us that his mission system opened up California to travelers across the land.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at


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