HAYWARD, Calif. (KTVU) - Hardware Hayward Store Owner Jim Weider said a serial thief is terrorizing downtown businesses. Weider said the thief is known to police and has been arrested several times but keeps re-offending.
In one instance, he said a thief grabbed an ax from his store and when employees tried to stop him at the exit, he showed the ax as if he was going to do something with it.
Weider said the suspect is no stranger to Hayward Hardware. He’s stolen a backpack and tools and the business has been targeted five times in the last five weeks.
“He’s threatening, he's loud, he's violent, he's inebriated,” said Weider. “He does this repeatedly and he mocks us.”
Weider said the same man has also hit Lucky, Safeway, Rite Aid and the Dollar Store.
“He’s hit about a half dozen stores numerous times over the course of the last six months,” said Weider. “He’s very well-known to police. They knew him instantly.”
Weider said police identified the suspect right away as 29-year-old Marquis Davis. Davis is a transient on probation who's often seen at food giveaways at New Hope Church. Weider said he's been arrested numerous times and then released from jail in a day or two.
“I’m scared for my employees,” said Weider. “I don't want them to feel uncomfortable. I don't want the customers to feel uncomfortable.”
“Do i get a lot of calls about regarding this bad behavior? Absolutely,” said Councilman Mark Salinas. “We get calls about people loitering in front of buildings. We get calls of smash and grabs in cars.”
Salinas said he's received complaints from downtown merchants not about Davis but others. He calls the property crimes a chronic issue and said the city is trying to ramp up community policing.
“We also have a bike patrol where we have police officers in parking lots and in some of the alleyways,” said Salinas.
Weider said part of the problem is police hands are tied in part due to Proposition 47, where some felony crimes are reclassified as misdemeanors designed to give people a second chance.
“This statute is being reviewed because of this very issue,” said Legal Analyst Steven Clark. “This catch and release justice system involving these property crimes is wreaking havoc on property owners.”
Weider is a big proponent of changing the law. He said he’s disappointed since he said the city of Hayward has done a 180 to try and revitalize downtown.
“This is not our problem,” said Weider. “This is everyone's problem. This has got to stop. This has got to be fixed.”
For now, Weider said all he can do is to be vigilant. He also plans to beef up security.