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Oakland business owner moves to Alabama after break-ins


OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Last month, KRON4 introduced you to Derek Thoms. He moved from the Bay Area to Alabama this summer. 

He moved because his family-owned laundromats in the East Bay were continuously broken into and stolen from. Since our story aired, some of his laundromats have sold, but break-ins continue at the ones still in operation.Including one that has him scratching his head when it comes to police response.

On August 31st, vandals broke into Derek Thom’s East Oakland laundromat. He was able to watch the break-in happen in real time through security cameras and called 911. Police arrived, but no arrests were made or even attempted.

At around midnight, security cameras catch three vandals breaking into the laundromat on International Boulevard in East Oakland. Getting away with an ATM that gets carried to a car outside, even as a pedestrian walks by.

Derek Thoms says his East Oakland Business wasn’t just targeted once, but twice that same night. Five hours later cameras catch two others rifling through the business and then bolting with a laptop in hand.

Thom’s security system alerted him of the break in and he called 911. Thoms tells KRON4, “the police showed up and watched them drive off. I’m not surprised that they didn’t chase them, but I am surprised that they made zero attempt whatsoever right. You’re just assuming that these people are going to run away. What happens if you at least put on your lights.”

When asked about their pursuit policies, Oakland Police responded to KRON 4 saying, “vehicle pursuits may only be initiated when there is reasonable suspicion to believe the suspect committed a violent forcible crime, and/or a crime involving the use of a firearm, or probable cause that the suspect is in possession of a firearm.”

According to OPD, the burglary on August 31st did not warrant a vehicle pursuit. Thoms tells KRON4, “I understand that, but that’s zero attempt whatsoever to really even do anything. The guy on the street didn’t even try to run to the car and grab the guy right.”

Thoms doesn’t blame the police, but says the real issue is soft on crime policies in Oakland and California. It’s why he moved his family to Alabama after his businesses had trucks back into them, and windows busted out more than a dozen times.

Thoms says, “it’s just going to keep getting worse until people decide to actually make the right decision and put the people behind bars who deserve it.” He tells KRON4 he’s put off selling his five remaining laundromats, because of the taxes he would be hit with.

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But given the most recent break-ins, he thinks it might be time to sell. He says, “it’s only going to be so long before it happens again.”

Thom’s says insurance usually covers the majority of the damages and losses he suffers during each break in, but not all of it. He estimates that this year he’s spent around $100,000. 



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