Last month, In-N-Out, California’s iconic purveyor of burgers and fresh cut fries, opened one of its newest locations in Boise, Idaho. Eager Idahoans waited in eight-hour long lines for what for many was their first Double-Double with fries “animal” style, proving perhaps that not everything from California is bad in Idaho.
Meanwhile in Oakland another In-N-Out story was unfolding. Instead of being deluged by eager customers, its parking lot and the vicinity is a free for all for criminals, criminals who are targeting In-N-Out’s customers and staff.
This is a first for In-N-Out, which prides itself on high quality food, excellent customer service, and clean and safe locations. Consequently, the only In-N-Out in Oakland will close March 24 due to high crime.
In a press statement an In-N-Out representative said: “We have made the decision to close our In-N-Out Burger location in Oakland, California, due to ongoing issues with crime. Despite taking repeated steps to create safer conditions, our Customers and Associates are regularly victimized by car break-ins, property damage, theft, and armed robberies.”
This announcement comes on the heels of recent media reports of crime along Hegenberger Rd and 98th Ave – the two roads that provide access to Oakland International Airport. Anchored by the airport at one end and Interstate 880 along the base – they form a triangle and what may be the most dangerous three roads in California.
The Oakland Police Department Crimestoppers website shows 77 reported crimes in the triangle in the last 30 days alone. Those are only the ones victims chose to report.
SF Gate reporters took up the story and on January 17th, reported that an Oakland car rental clerk, speaking confidentially, reported 5-7 cars being returned every day with broken-windows. These car windows are presumably smashed while drivers needing to return their cars fuel tanks full make a fateful last stop on their return journey to the airport.
OPD often stations officers at the Shell Station on Hegenberger – just around the corner from In-N-Out – as well as a Chevron Station on 98th Ave, which was the scene of “271 car burglaries, 15 robberies, and 5 stolen vehicles in 2023”.
Calls for service and staffing challenges prevent OPD from stationing officers at those locations 24/7.
I visited the Chevron and Quickstop on 98th, which shares a parking lot with a Wendy’s outlet as well as a boarded up and closed Starbucks. Sandwich boards advise customers to protect their belongings and a young clerk recently told me car break-ins happen whenever the police aren’t there. The Crimestoppers website shows 402 records or burglaries, robberies, and auto thefts in the last 5 months in the vicinity of Chevron/Starbucks.
A Wendy’s reviewer recently posted:
Do not go here. This Wendy’s at 189 98th Ave Oakland CA is on the worst street in Oakland. Extreme high crime area. Not safe for humans of any age. The employees will not alert or protect you, even though they know you will be robbed/attacked.
The “crime triangle” is only a part of Oakland’s crime and economic problems. Despite a national trend towards declining homicide rates, Oakland saw 120 homicides committed in 2022 and 2023, or a murder every three days. While overall violent crime dropped slightly in 2022, aggravated assaults and brazen carjackings have not and residents are concerned.
Recent town hall meetings held by Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price have done little to reduce that fear and a recall of Price is underway.
At City Hall, Mayor Sheng Thao cannot seem to find a permanent chief of police for its understaffed police department. It could be because Oakland police chiefs have a short shelf life having gone through 12 chiefs in the last 20 years, or an average term of just 18 months.
Oakland’s understaffed 911 call center often has a wait time of up to 20 minutes, which is well below the state standard of answering 90 percent of their calls within 15 seconds. It has not been in compliance for the last 5 years. It’s no small wonder why travelers on their way to catch flights often don’t bother to report being crime victims.
So, after losing the Raiders, the Warriors, and soon the A’s, Oakland is now on track to be the first city to lose an In-N- Out location to crime.
A Google Reviews reviewer for the Oakland In-N-Out sums it up best:
“AVOID THIS LOCATION AT ALL COSTS. Wish I had read the recent reviews. Stopped here after landing at the airport. Rental car was broken into and my backpack was stolen. While talking to security guard, another smash and grab happened right in front of us. This is unacceptable, this location needs to be shut down. Embarrassing that the city allows this and does nothing.”
The same could be said of Oakland – It is unacceptable and one should avoid this city at all costs.
Steve Smith is a senior fellow in urban studies at the Pacific Research Institute, focusing on crime issues, and is the author of the recent PRI study on California’s crime problem, “Paradise Lost.”