OAKLAND, Calif. - The fast food burger chain In-N-Out is a California staple, but its only Oakland location announced Sunday it would have to shutter amid rampant crime.
The Oakport Street location, which is highly profitable, will close its doors on March 24, according to an announcement made by the company CEO.
"We have made the decision to close our In-N-Out Burger location in Oakland, California, due to ongoing issues with crime," Denny Warnick, the chief operating officer at In-N-Out, said in a statement. "Despite taking repeated steps to create safer conditions, our Customers and Associates are regularly victimized by car break-ins, property damage, theft, and armed robberies.
"We are grateful for the local community, which has supported us for over 18 years, and we recognize that his closure negatively impacts our Associates and their families," he added. "Additionally, this location remains a busy and profitable one for the company, but our top priority must be the safety and well-being of our Customers and Associates – we can’t ask them to visit or work in an unsafe environment."
This is also the first time In-N-Out has ever had to close a location.
"There have been several In-N-Out Burger locations which have required relocation throughout our 75 years, however, our Oakland store will be the first location we have closed," Warnick told FOX Business. "We feel the frequency and severity of the crimes being encountered by our Customers and Associates leave us no alternative."
Workers there will reportedly have the choice of getting severance packages or be transferred to other In-N-Out locations.
The decision made national news, with one writer for the business magazine Inc. calling it "heartbreaking."
Ted Jenkin, CEO of oXYGen Financial, said the closure of the In-N-Out location should signal to the city of Oakland that there is a serious crime problem that needs to be addressed.
"You can’t have a police car at every business 24/7," Jenkin told FOX Business. "The only way more great businesses like this won’t close is that those people perpetrating the crimes realize there will be harsh outcomes for break-ins, property damage, theft, and especially armed robberies."
"Local leaders need to seriously prosecute those who commit these crimes," he added. "Without upholding the law, more quality businesses will come to the same conclusion as In-N-Out Burger, which is the juice isn’t worth the squeeze at the expense of the safety of people."
The In-N-Out location is a "convenient pit stop" for travelers headed to Oakland International Airport as well as patrons of the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Since 2019, police have logged 1,335 incidents near the fast food restaurant, which is more than any other location in the city, according to the report.
One security guard with Allied Universal told the San Francisco Standard that they get more theft reports at the soon-to-be closed location than at any other location they patrol. Another security guard with Brosnan Risk Consultants told the outlet that they see multiple break-ins at the fast-food location daily.
"On a regular day, I’d say five," the anonymous security guard said. "On a bad day, I can’t even get a report in because it’s back-to-back."
On a Tuesday between 6 and 7:30 p.m., the outlet reportedly saw three cars with smashed windows in the parking lot outside the fast-food restaurant.
In the past 90 days, there have been 170 auto burglaries in Oakland, which is defined in California as entering a locked vehicle with the intent to steal it or property inside. In 2022, there were 9,092 reported auto burglaries in the city, a 7% increase from 2021, which saw 8,477 reported auto burglaries citywide.
Sean Crawford, who works in a building around the corner from the In-N-Out, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s seen burglars bust doors of work vans and heard customers confronting burglars. He also said he and some co-workers saw a car pull up to the In-N-Out drive-thru line where two people got out and moved from vehicle to vehicle, robbing people at gunpoint.
Capt. Casey Johnson, who supervises police operations throughout East Oakland said many incidents in the area start as crimes of opportunity and become violent.
"People think of robberies as someone pointing a gun and (saying), ‘Give me your money,’ " Johnson told the Chronicle. "These are more auto burglaries that turn into robberies."
Council Member Treva Reid, whose district includes the airport corridor, reportedly attends bimonthly meetings with business owners to discuss problems and solutions for the area, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. In addition, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said she has made safety "for children, families, businesses and visitors" a top priority.
Fox News' Alexandria Hernandez contributed to this report.