Town Crier: Thieves hitting Montclair grocery stores’ parking lots

MONTCLARION: March 17, 2016

Oakland is rife with low-level thieves. You know the kind — crooks who make it their business to rip people off. They’ve been hitting the grocery store parking lots especially hard. There’s something about the lots that attracts them.

“It’s the cars with the bags and the backpacks left behind,” one store manager told me.

“These people drive through the lot looking for that kind of thing. And if someone parks and then walks off the property to run an errand, the thieves see that and know they’ll be gone awhile.”

If the police ask for the security video, store management will give it to them. But that takes some effort on the part of the victim, who first needs to file a police report.

And many in Oakland don’t bother. The mindset is that police have their hands full with violent crime and no time to pursue petty theft cases.

A dozen smash-and-grab break-ins a month? That’s the estimate from each of Montclair’s two grocery stores. And yet that’s a low number compared to stores in some neighborhoods, where you’re now seeing security guards.

The best plan is to cut the problem off at its source. Don’t leave anything of value in your car. Report suspicious activity. And if your car is burglarized, file a police report and insist on having them look at the video. Let’s make Montclair undesirable for thieves.

Mane attraction: Have curling iron, will travel. Two local women are running a mobile business of sorts in which they bring their salon skills to you. Lori Costabile and Kim Burns started Beauty Brigade ( last fall and are doing up-dos, blowouts and makeup — on demand — in Oakland and Piedmont offices and homes. Talk about finding a need and filling it … with the cost of rent, this makes perfect sense.

Around town: Chowhaus is shuttered, and sadly, you could see the signs of distress. This is a tough time for restaurants with rising food, rent and human resource costs.

On the other hand, it’s hard to believe, but AG Ferrari has been serving Montclair Village for 30 years and Montclair Fitness opened 20 years ago this month. Happy anniversary to both of these popular businesses. The former feeds our appetite for good Italian food, and the latter feeds our fight to stay fit.

Speaking of staying fit, a new juice and smoothie shop has opened where Juice Appeal served up smoothies for years. And Tutu School (ballet and dance) just got the permit to open in the old Snapshot Mosaics location on La Salle in Montclair.

Giving back: Montclair’s little storybook library needs help. Branch manager Lynne Cutler ( says they’ve been looking for months for a “book sale czar” and they’ve not had “a nibble of interest.” So, if you love books and have good organizational skills, please volunteer for this position. You’ll oversee the two book sales that Friends of Montclair Library hold every year, and get the undying respect of your peers.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at http://www.”



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