Tourists visiting Oakland are getting a new warning about a long-running problem as they pick up their rental cars.
It’s a warning Ali Armstrong and her friends didn’t expect to get from their car rental agency during a weekend visit to the Bay Area.
“A surprise as a tourist,” she said. “Definitely a ‘woah, this is serious.’”
Armstrong said the Enterprise Rent-A-Car told them to not fill up the car at the gas station closest to them because of break-ins.
She said another friend received the same warning from a different rental company — avoid gas stations along Hegenber and 98th Avenue near the airport.
“I wouldn’t say it would keep me from coming to Oakland but definitely being aware,” said Armstrong.
Armed security guards were posted at two gas stations near the airport Tuesday. A Chevron employee, who did not want to be identified, said that it’s in direct response to car break-ins.
Dozens of customers-turned-victims have even taken to online review sites like Yelp to warn others of the problem.
“We couldn’t control the break-ins,” said Guadalupe, a Chevron employee. “It would start 6 a.m., till 2 and then in the afternoon it would be crazy, way more.”
“On a real bad day I have seen some of these guys in the area maybe get 10 cars within the hour,” said a guard who did not want to be named.
He said most of the break-ins are targeting rental cars. He said thieves can pick them out by a white registration sticker. While thefts have decreased since he’s arrived, he said they just come back when he leaves work.
“We are so close to the airport, these guys are coming to return the rentals and they have all the luggage with them, it’s real unfortunate,” said the guard. “By the time they get to the airport, they don’t have nothing.”
Last month a couple had two rental cars broken into on the same day at an In-N-Out parking lot nearby. When the couple tried to stop the suspects, the thieves pulled a gun on them.
Oakland police announced they would add additional patrols after seeing a spike in car burglaries. But businesses fear the damage has already been done.
“We lose money, customers, we used to have regular customers but their car break-ins they don’t want to come back,” said Guadalupe.
Read Enterprise’s full statement below:
Due to a recent spike of smash-and-grab robberies in the area, we have cautioned customers to be more aware of their surroundings and ensure they do not leave any valuables unattended or visible in their vehicle, especially when stopping for gas. This is sound advice no matter the area or situation.
Customers are financially responsible for any damage or theft that occurs during a rental transaction – just as if they owned the rental vehicle themselves. Sometimes customers mistakenly believe if they didn’t personally cause the loss of the vehicle or witness any damage [for example, vehicle theft, a “hit-and-run” incident in a parking lot, flooding or hail damage] that they are not responsible. This is one of the most common misconceptions about rental vehicle damage.
We are always striving to make each renter’s experience the best it can be and help customers better understand what they can do to alleviate the risk on their end. For example, it is always helpful when a consumer knows before renting a car what coverage their own insurance provides for rental vehicles.
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Source: NBC Bay Area
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