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In-N-Out has never closed a location, until now. It cites crime as the problem

Maynard Binaday

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN

New York (CNN) — In-N-Out is permanently closing one of its restaurants for the first time ever, announcing that its Oakland location will soon shutter because of rampant crime in the California city.

The burger chain said in a statement that “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.”

The location, which has been open for nearly two decades, will close on March 24. It’s the city’s only In-N-Out and is near the airport.

Crime has indeed substantially increased in Oakland: Burglaries were up 23% and motor vehicle thefts were up 44% in 2023 compared to a year prior, according to Oakland Police Department data obtained by CNN affiliate KGO-TV.

In-N-Out said in a statement that while “several” of its locations have relocated in its 75-year history, the Oakland closure is the first restaurant it has closed.

“We feel the frequency and severity of the crimes being encountered by our customers and associates leave us no alternative,” said Chief Operating Officer Denny Warnick, in the statement.

Notably, Warnick said its Oakland location was “busy and profitable,” but it can’t ask its customers or employees to “visit or work in an unsafe environment.” Affected employees, which amount to about 100, will transfer to a nearby restaurant in San Francisco or receive severance.

A diner told CNN affiliate KPIX-TV that someone broke into their car recently while they were eating inside the In-N-Out location. “They were trying to steal my vehicle, but I had a kill switch on. So they couldn’t get my vehicle, but they took all my belongings out,” the diner said.

An In-N-Out employee also told the station they’ve seen armed robberies at the restaurant’s parking lot.

Councilwoman Treva Reid said she’s been asking Oakland’s mayor’s office for more police in the area but hasn’t received the support. “We’re in a state of emergency. Should it have to take a declaration to deliver (services) when we’re living this? My district has been in crisis,” she told KPIX-TV.

In-N-Out is a privately held company with roughly 400 locations around the United States, mostly on the west coast. It made national headlines last year when it banned its employees in five states from wearing masks as part of new company guidelines that “emphasize the importance of customer service,” notably showing their smiles.

In 2021, its locations in Contra Costa county (also near Oakland) temporarily closed because it didn’t want to verify customers’ vaccination status, which was required during that time for indoor dining.

Starbucks, Target and other stores have closed in Oakland and other cities recently over concerns about crime.

Target said in September that it was closing nine stores in major cities across four states, claiming theft and organized retail crime have made the environment unsafe for staff and customers – and unsustainable for business.

Crime rates vary from city to city, however. Nationally, violent crime fell 8.2% in 2023 for the second straight year after a rise in 2021, according to the FBI.

But crime has increased in Oakland. Violent crime increased 21% in 2023 from the year prior, according to the Oakland Police Department.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

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