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Multiple Taco Bell locations in Oakland have closed dining rooms because of crime concerns

New York CNN  —  Multiple Taco Bell locations in Oakland have closed their dining rooms because of safety concerns in the California city, which has been struggling with rising crime affecting businesses both big and small. Taco Bell said in a statement that “providing a safe environment for team members and customers is the priority” and that the decision was made by the restaurants’ franchisee owner, Diversified Restaurant Group. “The franchise owner and operator has informed us that they are consistently evaluating and working to ensure a safe environment by implementing procedures, such as closing dining rooms, and hiring security guards, and they have taken extra measures to meet with local law enforcement,” Taco Bell said in a statement. Diversified Restaurant Group owns about 300 Taco Bell and Arby’s locations, predominately in the western US. The company didn’t return CNN’s request for comment. At least four Taco Bell locations in Oakland have closed their dining rooms, however the drive-thru remains operational. According to Taco Bell’s website, it has about a half of dozen locations in the Oakland area. CNN affiliate KPIX-TV visited a Taco Bell location that has been robbed four times in the past four months, finding signs notifying customers of the closure. The restaurant still has plywood on the windows from its most recent robbery three weeks ago, when robbers rammed a pickup truck through the window to steal a safe. One Oakland location still has their dining room open but has gone cashless to discourage robberies, KPIX-TV reported. In addition to robberies, frequent auto theft and property damage have been problems for stores operating in the area. Problems pervade In two weeks, the only In-N-Out in Oakland is set to close, becoming the first-time ever the iconic burger chain permanently closed a location. It also cited crime as the reason. A Denny’s recently closed its only location in Oakland after more than 54 years, citing public safety concerns. Raising Cane’s near the airport also closed its dining room last year. Crime rates vary from city to city. Nationally, violent crime fell 8.2% in 2023 for the second straight year after a rise in 2021, according to the FBI. Downtown and Interstate 880 are seen from this drone view in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times/Getty Images Related article Rising crime risks turning Oakland into a ‘ghost town.’ Newsom is sending in reinforcements However, crime has been a major issue in Oakland: Robberies grew 38% last year. according to police data. Burglaries increased 23%. Motor vehicle theft jumped 44%. Roughly one of every 30 Oakland residents had a car stolen last year, according to a San Francisco Chronicle analysis. There’s no easy answer to explaining why these offenses have increased in Oakland. But the pandemic had a major impact, some experts say. “Pandemic-related changes in people’s daily activities and emotional and economic stress levels, changes in police practices and a rupture of public trust in law enforcement, and the suspension or reduction of social supports and programs are among the theories offered by crime scholars,” according to the Council on Criminal Justice study. Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom deployed 120 California Highway Patrol officers to Oakland and the surrounding area to conduct a law enforcement surge operation. The aim is to crack down on crime, including vehicle theft, retail theft and violent crime.