Montclair sees more burglaries after Oakland misses out on millions to stop retail crime

The City of Oakland is missing out on millions of dollars in state funding to fight retail theft after it failed to meet a grant application deadline.

It’s the latest blow to the city that is facing increasing crime, including four separate burglaries of businesses in the Montclair neighborhood.

"It’s just a real travesty for these businesses," said Monclair Village Executive Director Daniel Swafford. "We all have to rally around this challenge, and we want our leadership to take the lead and really deliver for us as well."

Oakland city officials blamed the missed application deadline on the city's "decentralized approach to the grants process."

Other cities including San Francisco, San Jose, Fremont, and dozens more across the state were awarded a combined total of $267 million to combat the problem. Oakland was not awarded a dime.

"This outcome is unacceptable," the City of Oakland said in a statement. "The city and department are reviewing everything that happened to ensure it does not happen again, and will take appropriate action."

Oakland said it was in the process of hiring a person responsible for managing grants across all city departments.

"I really thought it was a joke," said Carl Chan with the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce when he learned of the missed deadline. "The city needs help. We are willing to work with the city, but the city has to be willing to work with us as well."

Statistics show theft, burglaries and robberies are on the rise citywide.

Broken glass and a busted door frame was found at the entrance to the Korean market Friday morning. The owner of the Montclair business said three masked men broke in and stole $7,000 in cash early overnight.

"Two times they just went in and they just took out the front cash register and not get into the office," said store owner Eric Kim. "This time, they got everything."

The jewelry store across La Salle Avenue was also hit with burglars stealing an estimated $15,000, the owner said.

"You get frustrated," said Reza Aryan who runs the Jewel Box. "It keeps happening."

Councilmember Janani Ramachandran represents Montclair and told KTVU Friday she was upset by the increasing crime and inability for the city to provide more resources.

"If we are not supporting the ability for these small business districts to remain and thrive, we are not going to be able to rebound," she said. "We have city departments that are incredibly overworked and overburdened."

Ramachandran said having a dedicated citywide grant writer will ensure there’s a greater focus on funding opportunities to provide crime-fighting resources in the future.

By comparison, San Francisco was awarded $17 million, with a large part of the grant supporting proactive policing operations to battle organized retail crime and catalytic converter theft.

"If they’re able to capture that slice of economic pie, there’s no reason Oakland shouldn’t be able to do the same," Ramachandran said.

The city said safety is Oakland’s highest priority, and it's grateful for the resources provided at the regional and state levels.

"Oakland is not on an island," said Swafford. "We need this broader community to recognize the challenges we’re facing, the strain on the resources and to be there as partners."

As other law enforcement agencies roll out their new plans for the funding, the California Highway Patrol said it wouldn’t leave Oakland behind.

"We will be working together with all the allied agencies in the Bay Area and that will benefit the community of Oakland, whether or not they were awarded a grant," Commissioner Sean Duryee said. "We currently are doing organized retail crime efforts in the city of Oakland and so that won’t change."

But business owners and advocates tell KTVU more needs to be done to hold those who commit crimes accountable. They also want an increase in police presence and more cameras to deter crime.

"We want to make sure there are consequences," Chan said. "We’re hearing a lot of political promises, but we don’t see a lot of delivery."

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and X @BrooksKTVU.