<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Fri, 28 Nov 2014 21:20:27 -0800 Fri, 28 Nov 2014 21:20:27 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Steals Holiday Decorations From SJ Family]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 15:17:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1127-2014-Grinch2.jpg

Surveillance video shows a man stealing holiday decorations from a San Jose family's front lawn.

A man in the video is seen backing up a car into a driveway with the trunk open. He hops out and places decorations into the vehicle before taking off.

"It upsets me and I just kind of want to hope that person brings the stuff back or we can find them," Vanessa Tam said.

The Tams on Tuesday started putting up lights and setting up outdoor ornaments, which included a blow up Santa and snowman -- both over five feet tall. Both were part of the decorations the thief made off with on Wednesday afternoon.

The family has filed a police report, but know this is a low priority. The decorations are worth a couple hundred dollars, but the Tams said it's the sentimental value that matters.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Protesters Block Streets, Smash Windows in SF]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 20:40:52 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1128-2014-SFProtest3.jpeg

Demonstrations in San Francisco's Union Square escalated Friday evening as several hundred protesters marched on Market Street and some smashed businesses' windows or set off fireworks along the way.

As of 8 p.m., there were no reports of any arrests, according to the San Francisco police.

Muni service is being rerouted around the demonstration and buses are not serving Market Street, said Muni spokesman Paul Rose. He said Muni is encouraging people to take the subway tonight if they want to reach Market Street.

"It's a pretty fluid situation," Rose said. "We're just monitoring the situation and working with police."

A couple dozen activists gathered at 5 p.m. to protest a grand jury's decision to not indict a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old man in Ferguson, Mo., in August.

Several hundred protesters tried to enter the square and join the demonstration when police herded them down Market Street.

Protesters could be heard yelling, "Missouri, Palestine, justice now," and "No justice, no peace."

At one point, the window at Crate and Barrel was smashed, along with windows at Grace Jewelry, located at 121 O'Farrell St. An employee at Grace Jewelry said he saw a young man use a sledgehammer to smash the window.

"It's hard to imagine someone being so violent," the employee said.

The Apple store locked their doors and wouldn't let people in or out. A police officer said windows were also broken at the Westfield San Francisco Centre.

The protesters regrouped at Fifth and Market streets, accompanied by a police motorcade and officers in riot gear on both sides of the demonstration, before heading down Market and into the Mission District.

Some people set off fireworks and chanted, "SFPD, how do you spell murder?" as drivers in cars honked their horns in support.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Group Protests Ferguson Decision in San Francisco]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 19:43:21 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1128-2014-SFProtest2a.jpg People gathered at San Francisco's Union Square to protest a Ferguson grand jury decision.]]> <![CDATA[SF Protesters Call for Black Friday Boycott]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 18:43:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1128-2014-SFProtest2.jpg

The busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, was also a day of protests and marches, as groups called for boycotts in support of their particular agenda.

Masses of shoppers crowded Powell Street between Market and Union Square. In front of Macy’s the sidewalk was packed.

For San Francisco retailers, the turn out looked good. For protesters, armed with signs and bull horns, the thongs were a challenge.

"Stop the torture, stop the pain, BCDG is to blame," protesters shouted in front of shoppers.

In front of some of Union Square's high-end clothing stores, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, called for a boycott of fur.

"Fur on your rack is blood on your hands," PETA protesters shouted.

Another group, Supporting Tibet, called for a boycott of all things made in China, chanting, "Boycott boycott made in China."

It is no coincidence that the calls for boycotts are timed for the one day of the year when Americans are the least likely to forgo shopping.

Oakland resident and film maker Ephraim Walker explained Black Friday is the day when the powerful pay attention to shopping "because Black Friday is the biggest day in America for retailers."

Walker made a YouTube video, calling for a Black Friday boycott with the aim of putting pressure on the nation's biggest retailers.

"People at the top may say, 'You know, we recognize that the people of America are unhappy because of what's going on,' and they may flex some of their economic muscle," Walker said.

At least that is the hope, but shoppers said they were not persuaded.

"Well, we don't see how it's affecting us, and it's benefiting us in a way," shopper Marfelli Luna said.

San Anselmo resident Jackie Lodaw agreed.

"I don’t know that protesting shopping would help their cause," Lodaw said.

Photo Credit: Mark Matthews]]>
<![CDATA[Online Shopping Blamed for Smaller Black Friday Crowds]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 17:39:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/walmart-black-friday.jpg Black Friday may be losing its meaning -- shoppers are reporting smaller crowds on the day after Thanksgiving this year. Nannette Miranda reports.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[California's Severe Drought Impacting Quality of Christmas Trees]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 18:49:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1128-2014-XmasTree.jpg

The day after Thanksgiving generally means the hunt is on for the best Christmas tree. But California's severe drought has some tree farms warning customers that they may not see the quality they have in past years.

The Meyer family was out shopping for a Christmas tree on Friday in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They saw first hand how the drought has impacted the quality of the trees.

"A lot of them are find, but a lot of dry spots," Joel Meyer said. "Just gotta pick and choose and clear them out and go for it."

Tree farms across the state are warning customers that trees over 5 feet are showing stress because they did not get much water or growth over the last year. In addition, the trees might not be as full.

The Kloppel family saw the effects of the drought at a local tree farms near Moss Landing.

"We have plenty of tree farms, but the drought really hit all the farms and our trees are dry," Mari Kloppel said. "So we decided to come to the mountains where the trees are a little fresher."

The owners of Frosty's Tree Farm above Los Gatos said the drought did have an effect this year, but still believes most of its trees are fine and healthy. Owner Johnny Cerrito recommends shoppers put the tree in water right away.

"Just make sure to keep it watered in the first week or two," Cerrito said. "That'll absorb most of the water. So they really do need to maintain the water."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA['Plaid Friday' Drums Up Business for Small Retailers]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 16:11:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/libby_schaaf_plaid_friday.jpg

There is an alternative to Black Friday--Plaid Friday.

Oakland first conceived it as a relaxed version of Black Friday meant to drum up business for smaller, locally-owned retailers. And now, other cities are embracing the idea.

Plaid Friday equates smaller stores with individual threads that create a strong fabric, or plaid.

Oakland mayor-elect Libby Schaaf did some shopping today, focusing on stores damaged by recent vandalism.

"We're gonna support these businesses by spending our money here and having a lot more of a communal experience of shopping, rather than going to those sterile malls, or spending those tax dollars outside of our city," Schaaf said.

Oakland is giving holiday buyers further incentive to "Shop Oakland" by offering free parking not just today, but every Saturday until New Year's Day.

Not only are metered spaces free, but shoppers also can use city-owned lots and garages without paying.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[School District Hires P.I. To Oust Live-In Nanny's Daughter ]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:33:01 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_school_generic.jpg

Vivian loves going to second grade in Orinda.

But Orinda Union School District doesn't want her there.

The school district has ordered Vivian, the 7-year-old daughter of a live-in nanny at a home in the well-to-do area, to leave her "beloved" elementary school after hiring a private investigator to determine that she does not qualify for public school in the area, according to reports.

The Contra Costa Times reports that Vivian and her mother Maria -- their last names are not reported -- were told via a letter from school officials on Nov. 12 that they'd been investigated and deemed ineligible.

This has "infuriated" Miran Storch, 35, the woman for whom Maria keeps house in a 4,000 square-foot home.

Maria and Vivian live at the home, but Vivian may now have to move into her grandmother's home in Bay Point in order to attend a school there, according to the newspaper.

Storch has informed school officials that the pair live at the home throughout the week but spend weekends in Bay Point. Vivian has her own bedroom at the Orinda house.

It's not clear why or how the investigation began. Storch thinks it's because Vivian is one of the few Latinas in an overwhelmingly-white school district.

The private investigator, however, was told by Maria that the family lived in Bay Point, where Maria receives mail, because she feared that the man was working for her estranged ex-husband in an attempt to find out where she lived.

School officials declined to comment.

<![CDATA[Death of SF Jail Inmate Questioned]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:31:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/san+francisco+hall+of+justice.jpg

The death of a San Francisco County Jail inmate with a history of mental instability is either a lamentable suicide or a preventable tragedy.

It all depends on who you ask about what happened to Antolin Marenco, 40, who died Oct. 3 after he was found hanging from his neck in his cell at the Hall of Justice, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

Marenco was in custody for assault and attempting to escape jail. He also had a history of suicidal tendencies and mental instability, according to the newspaper.

Marenco had fashioned a noose out of a bedsheet earlier in the year, according to the newspaper, which noted that he'd also spent time in the jail's mental health pod.

But he was returned to the normal jail population "several months ago" for reasons unknown.

He was alive when two fellow inmates notified guards that he was hanging from his neck, but according to the man's attorney, no doctor was called and nobody on hand knew how to resuscitate him with a defibrillator.

There is some thought, however, that Marenco was sane and was using mental instability as a cover to receive better treatment, the newspaper reported.

<![CDATA[Canada Trying to Lure Silicon Valley Based-Expats Home]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:29:24 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/456032710.jpg

There are as many as 350,000 Canadians living and working in Silicon Valley.

And Canadian tech firms would like to change that.

Technology startups located in Canada are offering top jobs, big pay, and the "chance to stamp their mark on a nascent industry" to Canadian nationals willing to take their tech talent home to Canadian startups, according to Reuters.

There's a blossoming tech hub near the cities of Waterloo and Kitchener in Ontario, where some former BlackBerry workers are at startups, the wire service reproted.

While the pay is lower in Canada, so is the asking price for an apartment -- and the commute is easier, too.

So far, Hootsuite, Wattpad and Shopify are the most-successful Canadian tech startups, according to Reuters.

But in addition to the easier living conditions, the Canadian government is also offering grants and tax credits.

Could tech start flowing north?

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Seahawks' Richard Sherman: 49ers Fans Are "Mediocre"]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:27:38 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SHERMAN2.jpg

You can taunt him, you can criticize his attitude and his demeanor -- you can even hurl glass bottles Richard Sherman's way.

The Seattle Seahawks' talented cornerback and nemesis of the San Francisco 49ers -- who saw Sherman put their season in jeopardy with his two interceptions in their 19-3 loss Thanksgiving Day -- will take it all in stride, and deem you mediocre.

Sherman, whose game-ending play in last year's 2013 NFC title game led to an on-camera rant that went viral and did not endear himself to 49ers fans, took another swipe at San Francisco's fan base on Thursday.

Many 49ers fans began trudging to the Levi's Stadium exits in the third quarter of the 49ers' primetime loss, a fact Sherman remarked upon after the game, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

"I waved goodbye," he said, before applying a label to 49ers fans in general.

Subpar. Unremarkable. Just plain-old "mediocre," the newspaper reported.

After setting up  the game's only touchdown with an interception of a Colin Kaepernick pass, Sherman issued a "stern warning" to the 49ers sideline not to throw his way again.

If the 49ers did, Sherman would end the game, he said.

And he did.

After the game, Sherman took a bite out of a Thanksgiving turkey, set up on a table conveniently located at midfield atop the 49ers' logo.

The 49ers visit Seattle and Sherman on Dec. 14.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Anti-Fur Groups Target Rodeo Drive]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 15:56:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/186*120/11-28-14_Rodeo-Fur-Protest.JPG

Animal rights activists protested along the tony Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive shopping area during Black Friday, as part of a nationwide Fur Free Friday campaign.

Organizers have dubbed the glitzy retail hub the “Bloodiest Street in America” because of its retailers’ sales of luxury clothing made using animal furs and pelts, and planned the stop as the third in a series of four protests planned across the city.

West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico, who authored his city’s first-in-the-nation fur ban, joined the march.

Backers of the event included PETA, Last Chance for Animals and In Defense of Animals.

Retailers including Prada, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Michael Kors, Armani, Fendi, Max Mara and Ferragamo were targets, according to organizers.

Other planned protest sites included the Glendale Galleria and neighboring Americana at Brand in the morning; the Beverly Center in the afternoon; and Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica in the evening.

Photo Credit: Rene Luna]]>
<![CDATA[Parents Left Kids to Shop: Police]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 17:09:14 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/NYC+Woodbury+Commons.jpg

A 4-year-old boy and his 11-year-old sister, who is disabled, were left alone in a hotel while their parents were at a New York outlet mall on Black Friday, police said. 

The boy was discovered crying and wandering in a hallway at 3:52 a.m. at the Hampton Inn in Central Valley, Woodbury police said. Police discovered his sister alone in a locked hotel room. 

The front desk called the children's parents who returned to the hotel, police said. Their father told police he left the children alone at about 3 a.m. to pick up his wife from Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets, but he had to wait for more than an hour for her to finish shopping. 

The father was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. He has been released and a court appearance is scheduled Dec. 10. 

<![CDATA[#Blackout Black Friday Protest Shuts Down BART]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 17:29:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/bartshutdown.JPG

Protesters shut  BART down on Friday, hoping to block passage and shopping for four hours - the time 18-year-old Michael Brown's corpse lay in the street in Ferguson after a police officer fatally shot him this summer.

However, the transbay service at the West Oakland station heading to San Francisco was halted for about two hours, resuming full service about 1 p.m., according to BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

BART Police Lt. Lance Haight said officers had arrested 14 people for interfering with the railway system.

Beginning at 10:45 a.m., Trost said about 20 people had chained themselves - or used duct tape to bind their arms together -  on the platforms, and she urged commuters to find alternative transportation.

Many typically ditch their cars to head to San Francisco from Oakland on BART to get the best Black Friday deals - a situation of which the protesters were keenly aware. Other protests to decry the Ferguson decision, and also the low-wages of many retail workers were held across the country, from New York to Missouri. BART set up bus bridges to get people where they needed to go, and there was limited service during the protest, though trains for a while were not stopping at West Oakland.

One woman, Emani Alyce, sent out a steady stream of photos and videos on Twitter from the BART station, saying that there were "all these beautiful black people out her to support the shut down! #Oakland #Ferguson #BlackLivesMatter. Rasheed and Shabbaz, a member the Afrikanblackcoaltion.org, tweeted: "Rise up! #Shutitdown Oakland is the peoples town." 

Protests have have been held every day around the country and in Oakland since Monday, when a grand jury decided that Darren Wilson, a white police officer, shouldn't be charged with a crime, after killing Brown, who was African American, on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. Friday's action at BART showed a stark contrast from the late-night protests held earlier in the week in downtown Oakland and the Temescal district, where handfuls of activists decided to loot stores and trash buildings to make their point.

Before noon, BART police were seen taking some people off the train and asking them to leave on their own. One young man wrapped a bike lock around his neck and he was dressed in a #BlackLivesMatter black hoodie. Outside the station, women in white skirts danced to a pulsing drum beat. Someone set out a table of pink candles and oranges.

The civil action drew mixed reactions. Jose Eddie Palomares wrote on Facebook: "Yeah other people's lives matter too. A lot of people can't get to work because of these people including me."

Zinia Gangopadhyay responded: "This is a peaceful protest. It only works if people are inconvenienced and take notice. Finding another way to get to work can't be harder than feeling life your life doesn't matter."

During the protest, a group of protesters on the West Oakland BART station platform around noon could be heard chanting, "Black lives matter!" and about 100 more rallied outside the station.

Meanwhile, the protest left many BART riders on both sides of the bay stranded today.

Oakland resident Sonja Reed said she waited at the West Oakland BART station for more than an hour today while trying to get to San Francisco to go shopping.

But Reed said she didn't mind the delay, because shares the protesters' frustrations.

"I just wish we could be heard. Instead of tearing our city up, I wish we could learn do something so we can be heard and make a change," said Reed, who is black.

"Police are killing black people," she said. "What do we do so we don't have to worry about this?"

Photo Credit: Christie Smith]]>
<![CDATA[Christmas Tree Arrives at WH]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 10:45:34 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/182*120/459682616.jpg

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the White House now that the official tree has arrived.

A horse-drawn wagon hauled the 20-foot white fir up the driveway to the North Portico for inspection on Friday morning. Receiving the tree were first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha and family dogs Bo and Sunny.

The family circled the tree, smelled it and conferred before the first lady said, "Thumbs-up. It's a go. We're taking the tree."

Malia, holding Bo's leash, said of the tree: "It's great. It's big."

It's tradition for the first lady to preside over the tree delivery on the morning after Thanksgiving. The odds are slim to none that it would ever be rejected.

The tree is chosen weeks in advance at the farm that wins the National Christmas Tree Association contest. The winner has presented the official White House tree since 1966.

In late September, a group of White House staffers including the chief usher, groundskeeper and chief horticulturist traveled to the Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, to search for a tree they agreed is perfect enough to stand in the Blue Room, albeit tethered to its ceiling, as the main attraction throughout the White House holiday season. The Blue Room tree cannot be taller than 18 ½ feet, so this tree will be trimmed to fit.

The farm, run by Christ Botek, a second-generation Christmas tree farmer, also provided the official White House tree in 2010 and 2006.

The delivery marked the start of an intense few days of round-the-clock tree trimming, wreath laying and other decorating by an army of volunteer decorators who help turn the White House into a winter wonderland. Many of the decorations honor military families, a group that Mrs. Obama is trying to support through a nationwide initiative.

She has invited military families to the White House for a first look at the decorations on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ferguson Protesters Take Aim at Black Friday Shopping]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 20:28:30 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/459683116.jpg

Protesters taking aim at Black Friday continued to rally into the night across the country in the wake of a grand jury's decision to not indict the police officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

In the St. Louis area, dozens of people upset about the grand jury decision began trying to interrupt shopping at major retailers Thanksgiving night and and continued early Friday. According to Johnetta Elzie, who was tweeting and posting videos, the protests occurred at a number of Wal-Mart stores and a Target.

A mall was closed briefly as dozens of protesters moved store to store staging "die-ins," where they lie down on the floor like corpses, according to NBC affiliate KSDK. Thursday night also brought "stand up, don't shop" rallies at big box stores across St. Louis County. 

On Thursday, six demonstrators were arrested at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

The arrests came after some protesters allegedly tried to organize a disruption of the parade on social media using the hashtag #stoptheparade.

"We will not tolerate, under any circumstances, any effort to disrupt this parade," Police Commissioner William Bratton said Thursday. "This is a national event, a historic event. Anybody who would seek to interrupt it would be callous, indeed, on this very special day."

More than 150 people rallied outside Macy's in Herald Square, eventually making their way to Times Square. At least two people were arrested for blocking the sidewalk. A protester told NBC New York that the point of the demonstrations was to diminish Black Friday profits to make the government notice.

Los Angeles police said they arrested eight protesters Friday night. Police began detaining people who were running into traffic despite orders to stay on the sidewalk. A group of 50 to 100 protesters marched in the Westlake District where police blocked the intersection near the 101 Freeway as crowds chanted "Let us go."

In West Oakland, about 20 protesters chained themselves to each other and a train and shut down the Bay Area Rapid Transit or BART. One participant told said the group planned to stay on the tracks for four hours to symbolize the amount of time Brown's body was in the street after he was killed.

About 100 people in Chicago said they said they would remain outside the stores on Friday but would urge people not to shop.

Meanwhile at the Wal-Mart store in Washington, D.C., Ferguson protesters joined a few hundred living wage activists at a rally. The gathering was peaceful and included a four-a-half-minute moment of silence to remember Brown. The Black Friday living wage protest was organized by unions as one of several against the company.

Although there were a handful of signs reading, "Black Lives Matter," the majority of protesters focused their message on wages and hours. Activists say that D.C. Walmart employees do not earn enough to support their families in an increasingly expensive city and want to see wages increased to $15 an hour.

A similar protest took place outside a Wal-Mart in North Bergen, New Jersey. The union-backed group Our Walmart says demonstrations were planned at 1,600 Wal-Mart stores around the country.

An entirely different sort of protest took place on in Beverly Hills as animal rights activists targetted Rodeo Drive over fur sales.

Inside stores, as Black Friday kicked off earlier than ever this year, steps were taken to keep crowds under control, but not everyone was behaving.

Kimberly States, who was shopping with her 11-year-old daughter at the Westfield Fox Valley mall in Aurora, Illinois, told The Associated Press it was markedly more quiet around 6:30 a.m. Friday than it was the night before, when she made her first trip to the mall to pick up some holiday deals.

"It was a zoo last night around 10 p.m.," States said. "Now it seems like more of the old folks."

Some fights did break out -- at a Kohl's in Tustin, California, near Los Angeles, for example, where two women attacked two other women in the baby department. One of those attacked was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons; her condition was not known.

Tustin police said two arrests had been made.

An argument with shoving was also reported at a Walmart in Norwalk, California.  Police officers responded but no arrests were made, and it was unclear what the dispute was about.

And in New York, a 4-year-old boy and his 11-year-old handicapped sister were left alone in a hotel while their parents were at an outlet mall on Black Friday, police said. The father has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[CHP Didn't "Physically Take Anyone Into Custody" at "Sideshow" ]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:14:40 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/sideshow3.JPG

Despite 150 drivers showing up at the Port of Oakland to drive recklessly and do doughnuts during an illegal "sideshow,' the California Highway Patrol on Friday took no one into physical custody.

At a news conference, CHP Assistant Chief Paul Fontana said about 12 cars were impounded and 23 citations issued, mostly for drivers driving with a suspended license. He added that although at least 200 people were at 7th and Maritime streets about 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, his office wants to wait to review video taken from news choppers and CHP aircraft to possibly add further charges and arrest more people. CHP investigators will have to review hours of video to work with the Alameda County District Attorney's Office in deciding who can be connected to what crime. It is illegal to drive recklessly and also to "aid and abet" a sideshow, where the road can be blocked with onlookers.

"We want to make sure the appropriate people are charged with the appropriate crimes," CHP Officer Sean Wilkenfeld said. "We didn't take anyone into physical custody."

Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. JD Nelson, who oversees the jails, agreed that this was likely the right decision. "What are you going to charge them with?" he asked rhetorically. "Just being there?"

Still, the CHP warned that a "sideshow" is extremely dangerous.

"A sideshow can lead to injury and death," CHP Officer Daniel Hill said. Hill added that using video taken at the scene, his office will try to prosecute those eventually arrested and "we'll nail these guys once and for all."

The CHP highlighted a few of the more dangerous situations during the sideshow, which was occurring at the same time hundreds of Ferguson protesters were marching through downtown Oakland on the third consecutive night.

  • A driver in a red van with a load of children tried to escape by driving over train tracks. He was cited for vandalism, aiding and abetting and child endangerment.
  • A stolen car was set on fire.
  • Someone fired shots into the crowd, though no injuries were reported.
  • Two handguns and a BB gun were recovered. 

Before the sideshow started, an unknown person called NBC Bay Area and apparently other media outlets to report that the cars would be out in force. The person was aware that news helicopters were flying overhead because of the third night of Ferguson protests taking place in Oakland.

A sideshow is an informal and unsanctioned demonstration of car stunts, often held in vacant lots and sometimes on freeways.

Sideshows were first noted at Oakland's Eastmont Mall parking lot, and were made more popular in the 1990s when songs by rappers such as Richie Rich began singing a "sideshow" anthem to glorify the reckless driving.


NBC Bay Area's Megan Trihey and stringer Allen Weddington contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: CHP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Busy Black Friday at Livermore Premium Outlets]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 08:53:39 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BlackFridayshopping1.jpg

Slash the prices and they shall come.

Waves upon waves of shoppers packed the Livermore Premium Outlets early Friday morning in search of deals on clothes and accessories, with some stores cutting their prices by 50 percent.

Before 7 a.m., Ella and Hinna Patel already dropped $500 so far on merchandise that would normally cost them about $1,000.

"We were just talking about that, is it really worth it?" Ella Patel said. Hinna Patel answered: "Yeah, we have fun."

The mall has seen a steady stream of thousands of shoppers since the stores opened at 6 p.m. Thanksgivng. Mall management and Livermore police told NBC Bay Area news that there are absolutely more people this year compared to last.

Retailers rely on this rush of spending between now and Christmas as holiday sales can account for between 20 to 25 percent of their annual take.

The National Retail Federation is predicting a 4.1 percent jump in holiday sales compared to last year - the largest jump since 2011.

Judging by the crowds at the Livermore premium outlets, that prediction could hold.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Burger King Owner Finds $100K in Backpack Left in Store]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 11:46:30 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/burgerking2.jpg

It's not unusual for things to be left behind at Altaf Chaus' Burger King. Customers have forgotten their cell phones and their laptops in the past.

But on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, someone left behind a nondescript blue backpack, which sat on a table at the Bascom Avenue fast food store in San Jose, California, for hours. Chaus' employee noticed it and notified him about the forgotten bag.

"Out of curiosity," Chaus opened the bag to look for an ID or a phone number. Inside? Ten stacks of $10,000 bills, totaling $100,000.

"I was shocked," he said. "There was a stack of hundred dollar bills wrapped in rubber bands. I called police."

Officer came by his restaurant that evening to retrieve it, and told him that if it wasn't returned in six months, that he'd be eligible to get the cash. The bag also had an ATM card, some phone numbers, a bag of marijuana and a "white rock" in it, that possibly could have been drugs, Chaus said. San Jose Police Sgt. Heather Randol confirmed the account on Friday adding that police don't have very many leads on who it belongs to.

Whether it's drug money or cash that was earned legitimately, Chaus said he won't keep the money if it ever comes back to him.

As a Muslim, he said, he lives by the expression that "if you don't sweat, it's not yours."

He said that he's worked two jobs since moving the United States and believes in the value of hard work.

"God has given me a good life, and I'm happy with that," he said. "I might donate the money to needy people...I think you should do the right thing."

Photo Credit: Michael Horn
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Best Buy's Website Back Up After Black Friday Outage]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 08:33:57 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-28+at+10.18.32+AM.png

Best Buy's website was back up after suffering an extended outage on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year.

"A concentrated spike in mobile traffic triggered issues that led us to shut down BestBuy.com in order to take proactive measures to restore full performance," Best Buy spokeswoman Amy von Walter said in a statement. "Our consumers can return to BestBuy.com in the next several hours to take advantage of today's door busters."

On Thanksgiving morning the website was experiencing issues at around 9 a.m. as well, CNBC reported.

Best Buy attempted to one-up retail competitors this year by opening stores at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving day, providing tickets up to two hours before the doors open. Special sales in-stores included a 50-inch Panasonic TV for only $199.99. Other deals, online and in-store, included discounted GoPros, Dell Laptops, and Samsung UHD TVs.

Best Buy’s Black Friday slogan coined the term “door busters” for customers taking advantage of these deals when the stores opened, but it looks like “website busters” may be more appropriate. 

<![CDATA[Driver Runs Red Light, Officer Thrown From Motorcycle: CHP]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 07:30:16 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bike23.jpg

A California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer was injured and thrown off his bike late Thanksgiving evening after the driver of a red Honda possibly didn't see a red light and drove through an intersection, according to the CHP.

The officer was conscious and breathing when he was taken to the hospital after the accident about 9:30 p.m. Thursday but seemed to be suffering major injuries, Sgt. Eric Butwan said at the scene.

The driver, a 31-year-old Sunnyvale man, suffered a bump to his head and did not appear to be driving under the influence, according to a CHP report. Butwan described the driver as "very cooperative." He was not arrested or cited, but the investigation is still active, according to the CHP.

According the the report, two CHP officers were driving north on the Lawrence Expressway in Sunnyvale at the offramp from U.S. Highway 101. The light was green as they approached the intersection, and turned left onto southbound Lawrence Expressway. As the officers turned through the intersection, the Honda did not see that his light was red, and drove through the intersection, the CHP said, crashing into one of the CHP Officers.

The intersection was closed for about two hours.

NBC Bay Area stringer Allen Weddington contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area stringer Allen Weddington]]>
<![CDATA[Shoppers Fill Up on Black Friday Deals Served on Thanksgiving]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 23:43:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Thanksgiving-Target-TVs.jpg It's becoming a new holiday tradition -- hitting the stores first and then coming home to eat. Cheryl Hurd reports.

Photo Credit: AP Images for Target]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Food Banks Push for Holiday Donations]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 23:46:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1127-2014-FoodBank.jpg

At a time when so many people are recovering from a Thanksgiving feast, food banks are hoping you’ll think of them. Many Bay Area food banks use the time between now and Christmas to feed families year-round.

At Second Harvest of Santa Clara and San Mateo and Counties, it’s a busy time. Employees and volunteers are pushing for donations and packing food for the hungry. Second Harvest says one in 10 people in those two counties depend on the food they provide.

"If you were to take Levi's Stadium and fill it up four times over, that's the number of people receiving some of their food from Second Harvest," said Tami Cardenas, Second Harvest Vice President of Marketing and Development.

Right now, they're aiming to raise $15 million and 2 million pounds of food during the holiday season.

"Because the economy is doing better…the cost of living in the area is going up which is making it more and more difficult for the people we're serving, who make $20,000 or less a year, to survive," Cardenas said.

The food goes to people like Irene Beaumont and her two girls. The Beaumonts receive a bag of produce each month to help supplement their meals.

"I want people to know they either will be in this position at some point in their life, or they know someone in this position, and I want them to be able to help," Beaumont said.

Beaumont says the subprime mortgage crisis, and bills from a family medical emergency pushed them into a position where they needed help.

"You'd have to take away from the food fund in order to pay the PG&E, the water bill, your everyday expenses."

The family gives back by volunteering for the food bank. The girls also pick up donated groceries on the weekend to deliver to other families.

NBC Bay Area is partnering with Safeway to make it easy to donate. You can stop by any local Safeway and buy a pre-packaged $10 bag of food up until Christmas. That food will go to families in need across the Bay Area.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Ferguson Protesters Set Fires, Vandalize Shops in Oakland]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 05:21:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/1125-2014-OaklandProtest6.jpg

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in San Francisco and Oakland on Tuesday night, a day after a Missouri grand jury decided not to indict a police officer for the shooting death of a teen.

In San Francisco, a large crowd marched through San Francisco's Mission District.

In Oakland, police said were fully staffed and had mutual aid on deck as they responded to reports of protesters marching onto freeways, starting fires and vandalizing businesses.

Police also reported several arrests were made Tuesday night and that officers were assaulted with rocks, bottles and other objects during the protests.

Protesters gathered in downtown Oakland and initially marched toward the police station. But by 6:30 p.m., about 100 protesters were seen by an NBC Bay Area helicopter marching onto Interstate 980, near 18th and Castro.

The freeway was briefly blocked by protesters, who were eventually redirected back onto city streets by police.

Protesters just after 9 p.m. also marched onto Interstate 580 and temporarily blocked traffic. Police said they made several arrests on the freeway.

As the night approached the 10 o'clock hour the NBC helicopter spotted protesters setting dumpsters on fire. People were also seen vandalizing and breaking into businesses.

Officials earlier in the day said 40 people were arrested for a variety of crimes during Monday night's protest in Oakland, which followed the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson for the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Police said several officers were injured and among the crimes for which protesters were arrested were assaulting officers, burglary, failure to disperse, resisting arrest, vandalism and public intoxication.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Boys in NY Building Snow Fort Buried By Plow: Police]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:12:08 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Snow-Mound-Rescue-Inset.jpg

UPDATE: New York Boys Buried in Snow Pile Heard Rescuers Calling

Two New York boys were trapped under a several feet of snow for hours after being accidentally buried by a plow on Wednesday, police say.

The boys, ages 9 and 11, were building a snow fort in a mound at a parking lot near a Newburgh apartment complex when a plow clearing the lot pushed more powder onto the pile, trapping the boys underneath, police say.

Police say the plow operator was clearing snow from the opposite side of the mound and wouldn't have known know he had buried the children.

The boys, who are cousins, were trapped under 6 or 7 feet of snow for hours in sub-freezing temperatures, police say, and one of their mothers set out looking for them when they didn't return by about 10 p.m. When she and other family members couldn't find the boys, they called police to report them missing.

Officers canvased the apartment complex for the cousins, knocked on doors and interviewed other children in the neighborhood. They eventually learned that the cousins had been building a snow fort in the parking lot of a health center near the apartment complex.

One officer went to the health center and found a shovel half-buried in the snow mound. He grabbed it and started digging, eventually unearthing a small snow boot.

The officer called for help and police, EMS workers and community members started digging for the boys. Some had shovels, while other clawed at the snow with bare hands. They eventually freed both of the children at about 2 a.m. Thursday.

Both boys were conscious but were taken to the hospital for exposure to the cold.

One of the officers who helped dig the boys out, Sgt. Aaron Weaver, described a frantic scene as he and others tried to free the boys.

"It was all just really adrenaline," Weaver said. " I wasn't thinking much. Just trying to get to the kids."

One of the boy's mothers thanked Newburgh Police for saving the children in an Instagram post Thursday. 

"Today I am thankful my son and nephew are here and I would like to thank the Newburgh Police Officers who found my nephew and my son after searching for them," she said. "They found them at 2 am stuck in a huge snowpile that trapped them for several hours so I am very thankful today to have these two safe at home alive."

Newburgh had more than 6 inches of snow on Wednesday.

<![CDATA[Shoppers Pounce on Black Friday Deals]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 21:37:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/934464101.jpg Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving Day drew dozens of bargain shoppers willing to wait it out. Michelle Roberts reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[150 Cars Show Up for "Sideshow" Near Ferguson Protests]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:46:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sideshow1.jpg

As protesters marched and looted in Oakland Wednesday night to demonstrate their frustration with a grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, an estimated 200 people created havoc nearby, spinning their cars in circles at the Port of Oakland in yet another illegal "sideshow."

California Highway Patrol Officer Sean Wilkenfeld did not immediately know how many people were arrested, but he said it appeared as though 150 cars were at the dangerous Oakland event between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., and guessed that at least 200 people would be processed through the system. He said gunshots were fired at the scene and "multiple firearms" were recovered from the scene. More arrests will likely be made and the CHP is holding a news conference on Friday to give additional details.

Wilkenfeld said many will be arrested or cited on charges of aiding and abetting and participating in a speed contest. Others might be found driving with a suspended license or driving without a license. Video at the scene showed officers detaining many people, who were forced on their knees and placed in handcuffs.  Several people were cited and released already.

Meanwhile, not too far away, Oakland police said 35 people were arrested for crimes in downtown, stemming from the third night of Ferguson protests. A pocketful of so-called protesters have been vandalizing stores since Monday to show they are upset that a grand jury did not charge police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

The sideshow was not directly related to the protests, but an unknown person called NBC Bay Area and apparently other media outlets to say that a sideshow would be taking place near 7th and Maritime streets. The person was aware that news helicopters were flying overhead because of the third night of Ferguson protests taking place in Oakland. Wilkenfeld said the CHP was made aware of the sideshow beforehand as well.

"So obviously the first thing we need to think about is the safety of our officers and the safety of the public, so when we go in here, we have to go in there safely and methodically," Wilkenfeld said. "We were able to use our training in this instance to block everyone in, block all the escape routes, although we actually did lose a few people who were able to get out, but we blocked in the majority of them."

A sideshow is an informal and unsanctioned demonstration of car stunts, often held in vacant lots and sometimes on freeways.

Sideshows were first noted at Oakland's Eastmont Mall parking lot, and were made more popular in the 1990s when songs by rappers such as Richie Rich began singing a "sideshow" anthem to glorify the reckless driving.

On June 8, 2005, the Oakland City Council narrowly defeated a measure which would have subjected spectators at sideshows to criminal sanctions, such as fines and even jail terms. Drivers face various penalties, including having their cars impounded.

Though Oakland arrested fewer people on Wednesday night compared to the beginning of the week, there were still a small minority of people who decided to smash windows of stores, cars and the Oakland Tribune building, which was caught on video by a reporter.

The number of Ferguson protesters were smaller on Wednesday - an estimated 200 to 300 people -  compared to about 1,000 on Tuesday night, when 92 people were arrested. About 40 people were arrested on Monday night. Statistics released on Wednesday show that of the people still in custody, 60 percent were from Oakland, and the rest from other cites.

Police took a much more forceful approach on Wednesday - they dressed in full riot gear and many were seen more aggressively staying with the protesters in an effort to stop the crimes before they happened.

NBC Bay Area stringer Allen Weddington contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Fall Flat in Showdown with Seahawks]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 20:49:08 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/167*120/459667758_8.jpg

After watching his team get dominated by the Seattle Seahawks in the first half Thursday night, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh wasn’t ready to concede anything.


His team was down 13-0, but San Francisco has made a habit of winning tough, close games this season. The 49ers, after all, were on a three-game winning streak and had fought their way back into the NFC playoff picture.


“We’re going to show up this half,” Harbaugh told a reporter.


Indeed, they showed up. There were players on the Levi’s Stadium turf in 49ers uniforms. But they hardly played like the team Harbaugh hoped to see, as the 49ers fell to Seattle, 19-3, to tumble to 7-5 this season and put their playoff hopes in jeopardy.


San Francisco now sits in third-place in the NFC West, a game behind the 8-4 Seahawks and the first-place Arizona Cardinals.


Though the Seahawks hadn’t won in San Francisco since 2008, they were the most physical team Thanksgiving night. They stifled the 49ers running game, picked off Colin Kaepernick twice and pounded the Niners run defense, with Marshawn Lynch rushing for more than 100 yards while averaging 5.2 yards per carry.


On offense, the 49ers never got into a rhythm. Kaepernick was off target, sacked three times and wide receiver Michael Crabtree -- the target of Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s rant after the NFC Championship Game -- managed just 10 yards on three catches.


With five games remaining in the regular season, the 49ers now have a difficutl road ahead, especially considering they have a game in Seattle in two weeks. Over the past three seasons, the Niners are 0-4 in Seattle.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oakland Residents Fed Up With Destructive Protests]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 21:39:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1127-2014-OaklandTrib.jpg

Three nights of protests have left much of downtown Oakland boarded up and littered with graffiti.

The vandalism has also left children who live and visit the city feeling trampled on.

"I want to live in a clean city," said Teretha Scott, 8. "But every time I come out here there's something wrong. I see it on the news every day. I don't want to come to this."

The nightly protests since Monday followed a Missouri grand jury's decision to not charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

Oakland police said 35 people were arrested for crimes in downtown on Wednesday. Police appeared to take more aggressive tactics on Wednesday night, but were unable to stop things from spinning out of control.

More businesses in downtown, including the Oakland Tribune and storefronts in West Oakland, were hit by vandals. And to make matters worse, a sideshow event unrelated to the protests took place late Wednesday at the Port of Oakland.

Authorities said 150 cars showed up to the event until the California Highway Patrol and Alameda County Sheriff's Office shut it down.

Many in Oakland said they are fed up with all the destruction.

"I think if any people have any sense in this city they wouldn't join the rioters and they'll just let this die off," Oakland-resident Anthony Wilson said.

Police arrested 135 people during the first two nights of protests on suspicion of charges including looting, vandalism, assault, failure to disperse, obstruction and obstructing a highway.

The Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District on Wednesday released an open letter addressing the vandalism and looting at its shops. The letter -- addressed to Mayor Elect Libby Schaaf, Oakland City Council and Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent -- said police and city leaders did not do enough to deter the vandals during the protests.

"Time and again the vandals lash out with impunity at local businesses in Oakland," the district wrote in the letter. "The repeated failure of the Oakland Police Department and our elected officials to distinguish between protected protest and criminal vandalism is unacceptable."

Whent acknowledged some shortcomings, saying officers were so busy trying to stop protesters from going on the freeway that not enough cops were in downtown Oakland and in the Temescal neighborhood. "Tonight, we're trying to correct for that that," he said.

Photo Credit: Jodi Hernandez]]>
<![CDATA[Marin County Rancher Sees Compost as Miracle Cure]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 18:59:39 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/John+Wick+.jpg

If you think those turkey leftovers that didn’t end up in sandwiches are going to waste - well there’s a good chance they’re heading off to save the world. As compost.

Marin County rancher John Wick (no relation to the movie) has a keen interest in composting as a miracle cure for what he sees as solving the Earth’s climate woes.

Sixteen years ago, he and his wife purchased 54 acres of ranch lands in the town of Nicasio, about an hour's drive from San Francisco, with the idea of returning them to their native state.

Step one: Get rid of the cows. Results of step one: Failure.

With the cows gone, Wick watched as weeds began to choke the sloping hills of his property.

Step two: Bring in cutting-edge agriculture guru, Jeff Creque, of the Carbon Cycle Institute.

Creque urged Wick to bring in cows for a few weeks each year to imitate the regular seasonal migration of wildlife along the grasslands. He also advised Wick to begin a light dusting of compost.

Wick divided the lands into five plots - with high-tech instruments to measure moisture and carbon. Some of the plots got a light application of compost - some didn’t.

“Within six months,” Wick said, “what we saw was a significant increase in the grass that was growing in the rectangles of treated plots.”

The plots with the compost began to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and into the ground where the plants used it to photosynthesize carbon that went into the ground.

“We were able to increase plant growth enough,” said Creque, “that we captured an additional ton of soil carbon each year following that soil application.”

The really interesting thing is that the grounds treated with that single covering of compost seemed to improve each year - while the grounds that weren’t treated, lost carbon.

Creque said the bonus was the plants drew even more carbon dioxide out of the air, which is considered the prime suspect in climate change.

“It tells us if we could do that at scale,” said Creque, “we could actually affect the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere.”

Since starting the experiment seven years ago, Wick has seen healthier plants return to the plots treated with compost. Several other farms in Marin have now launched their own similar experiments - and there are hopes the movement could spread to other farms.

“[We’re] really trying to look at how we can support these practices on ranches across the state of California,” said Calla Rose Ostrander of the Phoenix Project, “and then really across the country.”

Wick strolled across the grasslands, pointing out the high tech mechanisms measuring the soil makeup, and a bed where he’s creating compost from human waste under a state license.

He wrapped his hands around a clump of grass, letting it ease through his fingers.

“So my conclusion right now,” Wick said, “is this atmosphere is rich with this resource we are undervaluing.”

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA["It's a Tradition": Shoppers Hunt for Black Friday Deals ]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:02:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP543391047193.jpg

Anders Kullman and his girlfriend flew in to New York City from Stockholm to shop at Macy’s on Black Friday for the tenth year in a row, and by 3 a.m. he was inside the Herald Square store buying clothes.

“It started off with the bargains, but now it’s just for fun,” said the 47-year-old, who works for Hewlett-Packard. “We are not saving any money, coming over here shopping.”

He was among the tourists joining in on the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, which with more stores opening on Thanksgiving Day is now firmly a two-day event.

And that’s exactly how three medical professionals — Naveet Panesar, 25, and 24-year-old Dalisha Bharti, medical residents who live in Queens, and Simar Kaur, a 26-year-old dental student — planned their shopping spree. They started at 10 p.m. Thursday and were still at it Friday morning.

“Shopping, taking rest in between, eating and eating and then going back again and shopping,” Panesar said.

All three women bought coats as well as jeans and jewelry.

“A little bit of everything which completes the entire list,” Kaur said. “One of this, one of this, one of this.”

The Adobe Systems Inc.’s 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping Forecast found that some of the season’s best deals would be online on Thanksgiving Day, but such predictions didn’t deter shoppers determined to be the first in the stores.

Raquila Wilkinson, 34, arrived at a Target in New York at 2 a.m. — more than 15 hours before its 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day opening.

"It's a tradition," Wilkinson said of shopping on the holiday weekend. "I look forward to it."

There were 500 people in line by the time the Target's doors opened; another 200 people rushed into a Toys R Us in Times Square when it opened at 5 p.m.

The scene was similar at the Dolphin Mall in Miami, Florida, were up to 800 people were waiting outside Thanksgiving evening.

“Shoes, shoes, and shoes,” said Andrea Brillante of the items she was looking to buy on sale.

And Edward Alvarez’s holiday shopping strategy was to get it all done.

“You make it simple to do it all in one day,” he said.

A survey by Nerd Wallet, the personal finance website, raised questions about some of the Black Friday bargains. It found that many of the same deals are offered year to year, which might not matter for luggage or Christmas trees but could mean less than good buys for year-old electronics or appliances, the web sites notes.

Doubts aside, 61 percent of Americans or more than 140 million shoppers said they would be in the stores or online over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. Holiday sales are expected to grow 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion, according to the federation.

Record online sales of $1.35 billion were expected on Thanksgiving Day, an increase of 27 percent over last year, according to the Adobe System's forecast. Black Friday meanwhile could be the fastest growing online sales day at $2.48 billion, a rise of 15 percent.

Demand forced Best Buy to shut down its website Friday morning for an extended period. Would-be shoppers found this message posted on the site: "We're Sorry, BestBuy.com is currently unavailable. Check back soon."

Best Buy blamed the outage on a spike in mobile traffic.

This is a key time for retailers, which make about 20 percent of their annual sales during the season.

The sales are meant to snap consumers out of any tendency to put off shopping until the last minute, said Priya Raghubir, the chair of the marketing department at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York City.

“They give you a reason to get out in the cold and start spending money,” she said.

“Consumers love getting a deal or at least feeling they’ve got a deal, feeling smart, feeling that they are in control,” she said.

At a Target store in Salem, New Hampshire, Fred Trecartin of Dracut, Massachusetts, waited for more than an hour on Thanksgiving Day.

"I had to get the three TVs, 40 inches for $119," he said. "It’s insane.”

Asked if it was worth it, he said, "Uh, yeah but my wife’s still in there....I might have to send the cavalry out soon.”

With the most ardent shoppers jamming store aisles Thursday night, Friday morning was quieter in many places than in past years. Some 25.6 million of the weekend's consumers were expected to be shopping on Thanksgiving Day; additionally 95.5 million said they would be looking for bargains on Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation.

At the Westfarms shopping center in West Hartford, Connecticut on Friday, Marissa Stafford of Simsbury said she had saved up to $400 so far.

"It's all organzied," she said. "We have our coupons, our lists, so you've learned over the years you have to be prepared. Yes, we've been doing this tradition for 10 years now."

Best Buy was among the retail chains that were open by 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Other included Toys R Us and J.C. Penney. Target, Sears, Kohl's and Macy's opened at 6 p.m. and Kmart was keeping its doors open for 42 hours straight. Radio Shack opened at 8 a.m., however, after workers complained about the early hour, the electronics retailer decided to close between noon and 5 p.m.

J.C. Penney spokesman Joey Thomas said that when chain opened on Thanksgiving for the first time last year, the response from customers was overwhelmingly positive. Giveaways and other activities are planned to show staff members that their work is appreciated, Thomas said.

“Additionally, local store leaders recognize the importance of work-life balance when staffing regular and seasonal associates, and give priority to those who volunteer for holiday shifts,” Thomas said. “Hourly associates will receive time and a half for hours worked on Thanksgiving Day.”

Macy’s noted that there were 15,000 people in line for its Herald Square store in Manhattan last year at 8 p.m., a record. The large majority of shifts were filled voluntarily, according to Holly Thomas, a spokeswoman for the stores.

In contrast, Nordstrom will remain closed on Thanksgiving.

“Over the years, our tradition has been to be closed on Thanksgiving so we are able to unveil our holiday trim the following morning,” said spokesman Dan Evans Jr.

Dismay over the early shopping led 32-year-old Brian Rich of Boise, Idaho, a marketing coordinator at a credit union, to start a Facebook page called “Boycott Black Thursday.”

“The best way to stop this is for everyone to stop shopping on Thanksgiving,” he said.

Twenty-five-year-old Danielle Mesisca quit her job at Kohl’s in New York City rather than work on Thanksgiving. The single mother, who has a day job working for New York City, said she would not object if Black Friday started at midnight or later.

“I feel like working a minimum wage job on a holiday is not worth it,” she said. “Thanksgiving is that one day your entire family gets together to spend time together. I shouldn't have to be forced to work and miss time with my family so other people can shop.”

Kohl’s did not immediately respond for comment.

With sales beginning earlier, and uncertainty about when the best deals are to be found, Black Friday does offer one guarantee: long lines of other shoppers, Raghubir said.

“But yes there will certainly be the buzz also,” she said. “You’ll be with all these other shoppers who are also very excited at having got a deal.”

That excitement is one reason 28-year-old Sy Paulson, a general manager at a Best Buy store in New York City said he did not mind working over the holiday. He typically has his meal the weekend before or a few days afterward and works both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

“This is my tenth Black Friday at Best Buy,” he said. “I get a lot of retail adrenaline. It’s a fun time. It kicks off the holiday season.”

In New York City, the Griffin family from West Union, Ohio, was heading into Macy’s around 6:30 a.m. and 9-year-old Emma was looking for just one thing: Santa.

The family had visited three years ago, when Emma just saw him through a window, her mother, 44-year-old Angie Griffin, said.

“She didn’t actually go in and sit on his lap,” Angie Griffin said. “Today she is.”

Photo Credit: AP Images for Sears]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested in SJ Airport Breach Released]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 23:42:40 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Zaragoza1.jpg

The man arrested for breaching security at Mineta San Jose International Airport is now out of jail.

Miguel Zaragoza, 39, appeared in court Wednesday to answer to charges of trespassing at the airport. He was spotted Sunday morning in between private hangars on the west side of the airport, about a thousand yards from the commercial side.

Employees detained Zaragoza, but he got away, stole a city maintenance truck and drove it to Terminal B.

"He's charged with trespassing, resisting officer," Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Duffy Magilligan said.

A judge determined Wednesday Zaragoza should be released on supervised own recognizance -- prosecutors argued he remain behind bars.

"The seriousness of the offense -- he allegedly stole a car," Magilligan said. "This concerns us that he might be a flight risk and we want to know where people like that are."

Magilligan added there is an indication Zaragoza may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the security breach. The judge ordered him not to use drugs or alcohol, and submit to drug testing.

In addition, the judged ordered Zaragoza to stay away from the airport.

Photo Credit: San Jose police]]>
<![CDATA[Bus Drivers Say Tech Company Shuttles Create Safety Hazards]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:01:22 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1126-2014-VTABus.jpg

Public bus drivers in the South Bay are issuing a warning to corporate employee shuttles for high tech companies, saying they are creating a safety hazard by parking in the public bus stops -- and they are demanding change.

VTA drivers said the corporate shuttles pull up at the stops, creating a public safety hazard for riders and other commuters. It is happening in Mountain View, Milpitas, and San Jose.

Riders said those buses are being delayed because somewhere along the route, some private vehicles park in a public bus stop.

"It makes other people late for their appointments," VTA rider Gabriel Zuniga said. "They have to start being more respectful."

“It makes everybody have to wait longer," another VTA rider Ramona Zuniga said. "And they shouldn’t be parked there in the first place.”

Just months ago this same issue created controversy in San Francisco when big groups began surrounding the private buses in protest.

Under a pilot program, shuttles in San Francisco now pay a nominal fee to stop at some Muni locations. The VTA is now working on a similar strategy in the South Bay.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>