The palpable rise in crime in Oakland, California, has forced popular fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger to make the difficult decision to shutter its only store within the city limits—the latest victim of a disturbing criminal uptick that endangers the safety and wellness of both employees and patrons. The announcement arrived Sunday, amidst increasingly punitive annual crime statistics. As Oakland reels under a crime wave that shows no signs of abating, national businesses are taking drastic steps to ensure the security of their stakeholders is not left in jeopardy.
In-N-Out Burger has its roots deeply entrenched in the Californian landscape and has been an iconic symbol of the West Coast fast-food industry since its inception nearly 72 years ago. To witness such an established and beloved Californian institution retreat due to rising criminal activity is a somber testament to the deteriorating safety conditions in Oakland, as underscored by recent police data.
The Oakland Police Department’s annual crime report reveals that robberies in the area have shot up by 38% between the years 2022 and 2023, while burglaries surged by 23% over the same period, as reported by The Mercury News. The In-N-Out outlet set to close, located a mere couple of miles away from Oakland International Airport, found itself enmeshed in this crime hotbed.
The severity of the crime wave made it imperative for the company to act, with Chief Operating Officer Denny Warnick candidly sharing that the establishment’s patrons and associates consistently fell prey to such rampant criminal activities as car break-ins, property damage, theft, and even armed robberies. One of the grim testimonials to this worsening situation comes from the security guards on duty at the outlet, who reveal that they are confronting around five break-ins typically in a single day—the highest frequency compared to any other property they patrol.
The closure is scheduled to take effect on the March 24, 2024, notably a Sunday, much to the dismay of the local community that has loyally supported the brand for more than 18 years. Warnick explains this predicament well when he highlights that, while the Oakland outlet continues to bring in substantial profits for the company, the corporation’s primary responsibility remains the safety and well-being of its customers and staff.
Promising continuity in employment for the outlet’s personnel, Warnick offered reassurance stating that all employees have the choice of either transferring to a nearby In-N-Out location or accepting a severance package. Amidst this challenging juncture, he reiterated the fast-food chain’s enduring commitment to Oakland’s local community organizations, even without a physical presence in Oakland.
In concluding, the COO mentioned that “In-N-Out Burger has a history of supporting the Oakland community through charitable giving that predates the opening of our location there”, adding that such support would persist through initiatives by the In-N-Out Burger Foundation and the Slave 2 Nothing Foundation.
In summation, the closure of In-N-Out Burger’s only Oakland outlet serves as a wakeup call to the detrimental impact unchecked crime rates can have on the local business community. The shutting down of an enduring institution injects a sense of concrete reality into the jarring statistics released by the Oakland Police Department and embodies the urgency required to address this burgeoning public safety issue. As the fast-food giant takes a pivotal stand favoring the personal safety of its customers and employees over fiscal performance, it ushers in a sobering reminder of the imperative of prioritizing secure environmental conditions in fostering flourishing businesses and communities.