Takeover robberies prompt warnings from police

San Francisco police joined a crime-prevention education organization today in warning businesses about the recent spate of takeover-style robberies plaguing the Bay Area.

The police, in conjunction with San Francisco Safety Awareness for Everyone, are recommending that restaurants don’t keep too much cash on the premise, that at least two employees are present during opening and closing, not to take trash out after dark and to install a video alarm and surveillance equipment.

Meanwhile, several East Bay law enforcement agencies are  continuing to investigate whether similarities exist in the string of takeover-style robberies that have targeted restaurants and other businesses in a growing number of cities.

The most recent occurred Tuesday night around 9:15 p.m. when two suspects entered the Yuet Foo restaurant at 10350 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito.

The suspects displayed a gun and accosted one of the owners of the Chinese seafood restaurant, taking money from the cash register before robbing at least two patrons in the restaurant, said El Cerrito police Cmdr. Mike Regan.

Police said the suspects are black men between the ages of 18 and 20, standing between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 11 inches and weighing between 165 and 180 pounds. One suspect wore a white T-shirt and dark baggy pants, while the other wore a white T-shirt, dark-colored shorts and a black ski mask.

Regan said that witnesses are working with a sketch artist to create an image of the suspect whose face was exposed.

The El Cerrito Police Department is contacting police departments in Oakland, Hayward, Richmond and San Leandro as well as the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office to share information of the robbery, according to Regan.

He said El Cerrito police have stepped up patrol around restaurants since the series of robberies began and will continue to do so until they are resolved.

Another robbery took place at a Chinese restaurant in Hayward on Monday night.

Two suspects, at least one of whom had a handgun, entered the Great River restaurant at 22218 Foothill Blvd. at about 8:10 p.m. and demanded cash from the employees, said Hayward police Capt. Darryl McAllister.

One of the employees ran out the back of the restaurant and the other was unable to open the cash register, McAllister said. The suspects then took a purse and wallet from two patrons in the restaurant.

McAllister said Hayward police communicated with other Bay Area law enforcement agencies as a matter of routine, but said Tuesday that there was no indication that the case was anything other than an isolated robbery.

He said the string of robberies hasn’t prompted extra patrol but that the Bay Area and state have seen an increase in robberies this year and Hayward police are vigilant investigating those incidents.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate a takeover robbery Thursday night in Castro Valley that had striking similarities to others in the area and prompted beefed up patrol in unincorporated parts of the county.

“We have both marked patrol cars and unmarked vehicles out to keep an eye on restaurants and other commercial buildings,” said Sheriff’s Office  spokesman J.D. Nelson. “That’s a response to takeovers occurring in the East Bay and prompted by the one in Castro Valley.”

Meanwhile, Oakland officials Monday announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of suspects involved in a series of takeover-style robberies that have targeted numerous restaurants throughout the city in recent weeks, including four since Friday.

Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason said police believe there are more than two suspects and possibly different groups of suspects involved in those robberies.

Recent takeover robberies have also been reported in Vallejo and Daly City.

The Daly City robbery took place at the Denny’s restaurant in the Serramonte Center early Monday morning.

Three men entered the restaurant — at least one of whom was armed with a silver automatic handgun — and stole money from the cash register and an employee.
— Bay City News and staff reports

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