Oakland pizzeria workers fight back, fend off robbery attempt

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Workers at a pizza shop in Oakland used a hammer – and recycling bin – to fend off a robber.

“It’s just unbelievable. They have the courage to do this. They have to fight against them,” said Elizabeth Sanchez, owner of Cybelle’s Pizza in the Dimond District.

The incident unfolded shortly before 10:30 p.m. Friday at the corner of Fruitvale Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard.

After initially leaping over the counter, a masked robber is pushed back by a worker, who then reaches underneath the counter to grab a hammer. That seems to scare the intruder away.

But within moments, the guy returns. As the worker calls 911 and brandishes the hammer, the man reaches for the cash register.

The two struggle over the register – and that’s when a cook hurls a green recycling bin in the robber’s direction.

“They were using whatever they have on hand. We’re trying to help the cashier, because like we don’t want to leave him alone,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez says the two held the robber at bay, and the intruder gave up without taking anything.

This is now the fourth time robbers have targeted the pizzeria since January.

In each of the earlier cases, robbers took off with cash register or the safe. And after each incident, workers have had to deal with the damage and the trauma of being robbed.

Sanchez said she and her staff work seven days a week, with no days off. She’s frustrated and worries that she might have to close.

“As an immigrant, as a Mexican, this is my American dream. But where is it going? I believe it’s going to the trash now,” she said.

Oakland City Councilmember Janani Ramachandran represents the Dimond District. She says she’s trying to get community safety ambassadors and more foot patrols in the area. 

“I completely understand the sentiment, deeply, of wanting to take things into your own hands,” Ramachandran said. “We need more hours, more coverage if we’re really going to make this a priority and the city’s not, you know, just going to say we care but actually putting money and resources to make sure that we’re supporting these businesses.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.