Brazen, unmasked thieves steal Caltrans fencing in Oakland

OAKLAND – A brazen daytime theft of fencing panels in Oakland earlier this week has been caught on video. 

The cellphone video showed thieves hammering bolts to remove wrought iron fence panels. Witnesses saw three men stealing the panels and a woman serving as a look-out.

It happened on Tuesday around 4:40 p.m. just under the I-880 freeway in Oakland, not far from Fruitvale Ave.

“As me and my son are talking, we started hearing loud clangs,” said Everardo Rodriguez Sr., owner of Bay Restorators. 

The theft happened right in front of his business. Rodriguez Sr. immediately called the police as his son started recording video of the theft.

His surveillance camera showed about 20 minutes after the call, an officer responded, stopped, and drove off a minute later. The female look-out could be seen in the surveillance video standing behind the police car. Oakland police told KPIX the officer did not see any thieves, so he left.

The surveillance video showed after the officer left, the thieves went back to removing the panels.

Rodriguez Sr. had no idea a cop even showed up since no one from the police department called him. So he kept waiting for the police as the thieves removed one panel after another.

An hour later, they snapped pictures of the thieves loading the panels into a truck.

“It’s really sad, it’s getting to that level where they’re stealing even things that are supposed to be welded on,” said Everardo Rodriguez Jr., son of Rodriguez Sr.

“It’s the old wild, wild west. It’s a free for all. And it should not be that way,” said Rodriguez Sr.

Rodriguez Sr. said the bad guys have no fear for anyone, not even the police because it feels like there are no consequences.

The thieves stole at least ten panels, including panels from two large gates.

Caltrans put in the wrought iron fence last year to keep the homeless out after multiple encampment fires. They said each 8-foot panel costs $400. Caltrans said it’s not a new problem and it’s happening repeatedly in Alameda County. Caltrans said instead of bolting the panels, they’re now welding the panels to slow down the thieves.

“We’re frustrated. As a small business owner, I struggle every day to make ends meet,” said Rodriguez Sr.
Rodriguez Sr. said thieves have also targeted his business. They do emergency cleanups at people’s homes and businesses.

“I used to respond 24/7 for water damages and fire damages. I can’t do that no more. It’s so dangerous I’ve had employees quit. They will not come here late at night because we’ve had incidents,” said Rodriguez Sr.

He and the neighbors want the police and elected leaders to do better and restore a sense of safety.

“Hopeless. I feel hopeless,” said Rodriguez Sr.

It’s unclear if Oakland Police are investigating the theft since it’s considered a low priority crime.

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