"There have been two robberies of the instrumental music department at osa, but surprisingly enough the $25K lost in these robberies may have brought osa together” -- Zanthe Jones-Gerachis, 7th Grade
Recently there have been two robberies of OSA’s instrumental music department, causing many students to resort to having to rent or even buy new instruments. Keep in mind that most of these instruments cost a lot of money and the students have had them since they were very young. Having something that you love and have known for so long actually robbed from you is a serious thing to deal with.
“I feel really sorry and helpless because there's really nothing we can do,” says Emily Tian, Instrumental Music Sub-Pathway Chair. “People may think, ‘oh yeah of course you're in Oakland, of course you're going to get break ins’, but this actually happened in a lot of local instrument shops. There's one in El Cerrito, and it's in a very… decent area, and they still had people walk in in broad daylight, steal the instruments and just walk out. This even happened to another school that is pretty isolated, not out in downtown, they still had people come in and steal their stuff,” Tian explains.
As for when, how, and where the robberies occurred, surveillance videos have given us that information.
“It happened outside of school hours. I do not think the security should have been better. I think a locked door with another locked door behind it that someone had to cut through metal to open it up should be enough,” says Mike Oz, Executive Director at OSA. “The first one happened on a Saturday morning and I came down here… probably five minutes after they had left. The door was still open, the alarm was ripped off the wall, a bunch of instruments were gone, and the cops were just showing up. So we spent about twenty minutes making sure there was nobody in the building. Once we determined the building was clear, we got in there.”
After making sure the building was clear, they determined that the robbers got in by opening boxes on the outside of buildings that contain keys for fire departments to use that are supposed to be indestructible. They managed to get the box and get the key out of this “indestructible” box. After figuring that out, Oz and the cops secured the area.
During the second robbery, the robbers used an angle grinder to get through the locks on the doors. An angle grinder is a saw type metal cutting disc that spins fast, which the robbers used to cut through the metal accordion door. The robbers did cover their faces so even though we have security footage of them, we don’t know their identity.
“I showed the video of it to the news to try and help bring awareness to our challenges,” Oz explains. Luckily, his efforts helped greatly and there is now a Go Fund Me to help raise over $25,000 that all the stolen instruments added up to. Quickly, the school received an offer for a matching grant of $10,000 from the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation, and soon after received a $10,000 match from the Dawn Redwood Charitable Trust, as well as$5,000 from the Carlsen Muir Family Foundation.
After these generous donations, OSA was able to cancel their insurance claim, find the best replacements for the stolen instruments, and invest in better securing their buildings and facilities.
“It has a real impact on the students’ learning process because some of the instruments were even custom made for their needs,” Tian explains. “Meanwhile, they have shows, they have to prepare. Some students have been gigging and touring, so that affects their music life outside of school too.”
To run a balanced budget this year, OSA still has a fundraising goal of $1,300,000. If you would like to donate, OSA has now put in a “donate button” on the www.oakarts.org webpage. If each family is able to generate an average of $1,600 in contributions within their individual networks, it would cover the entire fundraising goal.
Click this link to see the ABC7 News report:
Oakland students rent, borrow instruments for concert after thieves steal $25K worth of equipment