Oakland – A group of PG&E workers were targeted by thieves who broke into their car as they were about to pull into a garage near the utility’s headquarters near Oakland’s Lake Merritt.
“That sucks, because you can’t even go to work, like, you can’t even, like, feel safe,” Jenny Valera said Friday as she walked past the iconic Kaiser Center building as security personnel milled about outside.
It happened as several workers, in an unmarked car, were pulling into a parking garage near 21st and Harrison streets at about 10 a.m. Thursday. A second car pulled up behind the workers. A passenger got out and then broke one of their car windows and stole property.
The victims were heading to work at PG&E’s headquarters on Lakeside Drive, a familiar part of Oakland’s downtown skyline.
“At the same time, like, it’s the Bay Area,” Valera said. “It is what it is. You just have to be as vigilant as possible. But if this is their new facility, proper security needs to be taken.”
KTVU has learned the victims were preparing to use a company badge to get access to the parking garage. When the thieves pulled up behind them, they assumed it was another employee’s car.
In a statement, PG&E said, “The safety of our co-workers and contractors is one of PG&E’s most important responsibilities. PG&E is aware of an incident..where three employees were the victims of a vehicle robbery, and we are assisting the Oakland Police Department in their investigation.”
This comes as KTVU first reported two weeks ago that Kaiser Permanente, Oakland’s largest private employer, issued a memo telling its workers downtown to stay in their offices for work and lunch. Other companies are also providing security to accompany employees.
At PG&E, there was heavy security around the building on Friday, with the usual contingent of security wearing bright orange vests, as well as an armed guard who normally travels with PG&E crews in the field in Oakland – a response to utility workers being robbed on the street.
“The way things are going, it’s getting worse and worse every day, and people don’t want to work themselves and take from others, easier way for them, there’s just too much of it going on,” said Nicholas Rodriguez, who accompanied Valera as the two sought new clients for their employer.
Juanita Capri Brown, an Oakland resident, said, “I think this area has definitely seen an uptick in crime, and it shouldn’t happen to anyone.”