This Crime Wave Is an Economic Disaster

Nearly eight years ago, I moved from California to Florida to work alongside a legend in independent financial publishing.

And to be frank, north Florida seemed like a significant step down. After all, I had been living in Mountain View, California.

The city doesn’t have the name recognition of San Francisco. But it’s the home of Google’s main campus. Several other high-power tech companies are also headquartered there.

Mountain View is buzzing with techno-optimism – and highly paid tech workers.

At the time, Oakland – less than an hour drive to the north – was the “hip” area. It was cheaper, but clean.

It’s nestled against the San Francisco Bay, just to the east of the city. And put simply, it was where all the “cool kids” wanted to live.

Sure, it was a bit grittier. But not in a way that concerned average folks. If anything, Oakland was vibrant, growing, and “up and coming.”

Well, if you’ve read the news at all… you know that has changed dramatically over the past few years. In fact, the city is facing a massive crime wave.

And it’s nothing short of an economic disaster.

Folks, I encourage you to put politics aside and consider how bad things have gotten in this part of California.

According to Oakland Police Department data, burglaries were up 23% in 2023 compared with the previous year. Meanwhile, robberies and motor vehicle thefts were up 38% and 44% year over year, respectively.

We’re talking about a city that’s near some of the most prosperous companies in the world. And yet, it’s crumbling.

Things have gotten so bad that a coalition of business owners are threatening to stop paying their taxes. They say that taxes paid come with the expectation of basic services… like policing the streets.

This is more than just a few grumbling local proprietors. Many fast-food establishments in the city have closed their dining areas.

Letting people in is simply too dangerous. So these locations have switched to drive-thru-only now.

In-N-Out Burger even closed its Oakland location entirely earlier this year. The privately held burger chain had never closed a location before that. As it 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.

And robbers are breaking into cars… with drivers still inside.

Last month, a story came out about how one woman had her purse stolen out of her car… while she was in it. It was a brazen armed robbery.

She called the police immediately. Once she got through the calling system, she was told there were 200 reports ahead of hers. Officers would get to her when they could.

Folks, this is dire…

Crime has taken the residents of Oakland hostage. And remember, we’re talking about a city that should be bustling with tech money.

As investors, we’re usually focused on “the big picture.” We often look at companies so large that local problems might seem insignificant by comparison.

But in the end, no one wants to live in a crime-ridden city…

In Oakland, sports teams have left or are planning to leave. Colleges have closed campuses. And downtown office space is vacant.

That all adds up to lost jobs for regular folks.

Now, big institutions might not be leaving solely due to crime. But it almost certainly plays a role.

Sure, bad crime isn’t specific to Oakland. And just like in cities across the country, many complex factors are at work.

But Oakland is a case study that we should all pay attention to. (Since I lived near the city for the better part of a decade, it still feels personal to me.)

My point is simple…

No matter your beliefs, don’t let your local politicians give up on tackling crime.

If they do, you could end up facing an economic disaster.

Good investing,

Vic Lederman

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