BBQ truck stolen in Oakland at brewery closing over crime

A small business owner in Oakland was dealt a major blow just over two months after opening.

Chef Jason Lewis said that the Chevy S-10 pickup, which he'd just bought on Nov. 30 for his mobile Smokeland Barbecue business, was stolen the next day while he was selling burgers at an Oakland brewery.

"It sucks," Lewis said.

The pickup, including equipment and $500 worth of hamburgers, was stolen from outside of Ale Industries on E. 10th Street in the Fruitvale neighborhood. The truck — which he bought for $3,000 — was taken after Lewis loaded it up and went inside to say goodnight to the staff.

"It's part of being in Oakland," Lewis told KTVU.

According to Oakland Police, more than 12,700 vehicles have been stolen citywide this year alone, 51 percent more than in 2022.

Chevy S-10 stolen from Smokeland Barbecue in Oakland, Dec 1, 2023.

Police started foot patrols in Fruitvale in November, but for Lewis, it's not enough.

"Crackdown on all this stuff that’s going on locally in the neighborhoods instead of just letting it go," Lewis said.

Lewis is hoping someone will recognize his 2001, white, long bed, Chevy S-10, with black wheels, tinted windows, and a noticeable dent on the passenger side of the bed. The truck's California license plate number, which was likely removed, is 13637M3.

Lewis told KTVU he didn’t have insurance yet on the truck.

When he called Oakland Police to report it being stolen, Lewis said police told him they couldn’t help him, because he didn’t have a bill of sale yet, since he bought the truck from a friend the day before.

According to Oakland Police, the law requires an officer to verify proof of ownership before entering a vehicle into the stolen vehicle system.

KTVU previously reported Ale Industries is in the process of closing.

Crime is nothing new for the brewery, where Krystal Forrester manages the tap room.

Chevy S-10 stolen from Smokeland Barbecue in Oakland, Dec 1, 2023. (KTVU)

"It’s a risk," Forrester said.

The beer won’t be flowing much longer.

"The last two break-ins have, those were really hard on us," Forrester said.

The brewery is expected to permanently close in a matter of days, after they sell off the remaining inventory of beer, before shutting down, like so many other small businesses.

"It's a feeling of a kind of desolation," customer Robert Layman said. "It's unnerving."

Lewis is not asking for any handouts and said he will not be setting up a GoFundMe.

He just wants people to go buy his food, so he can recover.

He doubts he will see his truck again.

"Does nothing but light a fire under your butt and make you want to work harder," Lewis said.

Hamburger from Smokeland Barbecue in Oakland. (KTVU)

Smokeland Barbecue just opened in September and does pop-up events, often outside breweries and wineries, offering slow-smoked meats and sides. Lewis said the meat is locally sourced, from Stemple Creek Ranch in the Marin County town of Tomales. 

On Dec. 8, Smokeland Barbecue will be at Oakland United Beerworks from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and at Brooklyn West Winery from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Meat on the grill at Smokeland Barbecue in Oakland. (KTVU)