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Oakland Businesses Turn Away from Cash Payments Amidst Rising Robberies and Burglaries

As Oakland grapples with a surge in reported robberies and burglaries, several businesses in the California city have made a significant decision – they will no longer accept cash payments. This drastic move comes as entrepreneurs seek ways to protect their employees and establishments from criminal activities.

One such business, Cafe Umami, faced recurring robberies amounting to approximately $50 each time. The cost of repairing the damage caused during these incidents outweighed the losses incurred. Consequently, they decided to put up a sign declaring their non-acceptance of cash, which proved to be an effective deterrent against further robberies.

The trend of abandoning cash transactions has been noticed across multiple businesses in Oakland. Although the move goes against the ideas of equity and inclusion, it appears to be a practical step in safeguarding their livelihoods.

Asha Tea House, for instance, experienced three burglaries in just two years before they, too, decided to adopt a “credit cards only” policy. This choice reflects the prevailing situation for many establishments in Oakland’s “Police Area 2,” where the number of burglaries has nearly tripled since 2021. In a single year, commercial burglaries in the region escalated from 52 to 125, and this year has already witnessed 137 such incidents.

Unlike their neighboring city, San Francisco, business owners in Oakland have the freedom to prohibit cash sales without any restrictions from the city. San Francisco had previously passed an ordinance in 2019, requiring all businesses to accept cash in the spirit of inclusivity for those who may lack credit or bank accounts.

However, the decision to only accept card payments isn’t without its challenges. Every credit and debit transaction incurs fees for the business owners, potentially impacting their bottom line. Despite this financial setback, businesses in Oakland continue to post signs banning cash transactions, as they find it to be an effective measure in curbing burglaries.

Chris Jackson, the manager of the Rockridge District Association, acknowledges the dilemma faced by these merchants. While accepting only credit cards and other cashless payments may cut into their profit margin by 2.5 to 4%, businesses are left with few choices when confronted with desperate circumstances. Survival has become the primary concern for entrepreneurs as they grapple with the ongoing wave of criminal activity.

The situation in Oakland reflects the growing desperation among business owners who must prioritize their safety and livelihoods over the ideals of inclusivity. As they adapt to these challenging times, the debate between convenience, security, and equity remains at the forefront of discussions in the city’s business community.

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