Oakland police arrest 7 in one-day undercover auto burglary operation

Oakland police on Tuesday announced they arrested seven people in a special one-day undercover operation targeting car burglars as the city has seen 11,000 car burglaries this year, up 41% since this time last year.

All of the arrests were on Thursday in separate auto burglary suppression efforts, officials said at a news conference, hosted by police and the mayor. 

"We must and we will do more to hold accountable those individuals behind these crimes," Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said. 

  • In one of the cases, officers assigned to the Violent Crime Operations Center and  the Community Resource Officer Unit said they caught two people in the act of breaking into a Mercedes GLC 300 in the 3300 block of Grand Avenue. The OPD helicopter and officers on the ground followed the car to the 600 block of Potter Street. After running after them on foot, officers arrested Savion Lampkin, 25, and convicted auto burglar Frank English, 24. 
  • In the second case, officers watched two people cutting off a catalytic converter from a parked vehicle. When officers attempted to intervene, they fled in their stolen vehicle and intentionally rammed an OPD unmarked police vehicle, barely missing an undercover officer. With the assistance of the police helicopter, officers tracked the vehicle to the 100 block of 8th Street. Following a foot pursuit, both suspects were taken into custody. Inside the vehicle, officers found three catalytic converters along with power tools.
  • The third investigation was conducted by officers assigned to the Ceasefire division. Officers said they observed three people occupying a car looking into other vehicles. Officers followed the vehicle out of the area and discovered that it had a license plate that was not registered to the vehicle. When Ceasefire officers attempted to stop the car, it fled. OPD’s helicopter followed the vehicle to the 4500 block of MacArthur Boulevard, where officers arrested three people and recovered two firearms, one of which had a high-capacity magazine. Additionally, items from previous auto burglaries and burglary tools were found inside the vehicle, which were stolen, police said. 

"The individuals involved in auto burglaries have become extremely brazen, as you can see from this operation, they are carrying guns and ramming police cars," said Interim Assistant Police Chief Tony Jones.

Officers said they’ve seen an uptick in suspects ramming their cruisers to get away.

"Our goal is to significantly reduce [auto burglaries] and get this problem under control so people could come to this city and feel like they don’t have to worry about their car getting broken into," Jones said. 

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office charged six people with various charges as a result of these arrests, police said. 

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Residents of Oakland have been worried about the rising car thefts.

"We’ve been hit multiple times," said Mary Lou Martin, and Oakland native who said her family has lost about $18,000 in totaled stolen cars and broken windows over the years.

"Nothing’s ever done about it," said Martin. "All of us don’t want to shop in Oakland. We don’t want to eat out in Oakland, even in the middle of the day to go to a restaurant. We don’t want to park on the streets."

Meanwhile, another couple sent KTVU a video captured in Oakland of people walking through a parking garage and checking for unlocked car doors. The couple said they waited on the phone calling 911 for 12 minutes before ultimately hanging up.

Addressing the 911 call times, Jones said, "We’re doing everything we can to make sure people can get through to us when they find themselves in these situations."

To help fight crime, Oakland PD funded six police academies instead of the usual four this year to help with low staffing. They also recently reinstated foot patrol officers, with 12 of them across the city. 

Also, there will be 300 new license plate readers installed within the next six weeks if the Oakland City Council approves the proposal.