Pleasant Hill — Consignment shop owner not surprised by intruders’ attempt

Consignment shop owner not surprised by intruders’ attempt
Albert Marcu, owner of Estates Consignments in Pleasant Hill, stands behind the counter of his store where he confronted would-be smash and grab intruders with his gun. (Photo by David Scholz)

But needing to pull out gun ‘never crossed my mind’

PLEASANT HILL, CA (Dec. 26, 2023) — There have been several incidents over the years at Estates Consignment, like when culprits went on the roof and attempted to drop through the ceiling into the store.

But nothing compared to the events of Dec. 11 when Albert Marcu thwarted assailants who entered his Contra Costa Boulevard shop, intent on doing a smash and grab. Marcu met them in the jewelry section of the store and pointed his .38 caliber revolver in their direction.

This sent the would-be robbers fleeing and into a pair of Infiniti Q50s that were waiting in the parking lot. Despite Pleasant Hill Police quickly arriving on the scene, the suspects were able to drive off.

“It never crossed my mind,” said Marcu of having to pull out his gun before the most recent episode.

Was he scared?  Calmly, Marcu responded, “it was a matter of time.”

‘Be aware and be careful’

“I had a premonition and told my employees to be aware and be careful,” he continued.

With time to reflect on the experience, Marcu acknowledged he would be leery about actually pulling the trigger if there was any inkling in his mind that an innocent bystander or one of his employees would be at risk of being shot.

Pleasant Hill Police Lt. Jason Kleven noted a person in California has the right to defend themselves, including using lethal force, when they are facing harm or danger.  Each situation will be different and has to be evaluated on the facts of the incident.

“Where it gets sticky is determining when you are no longer defending yourself and the threat is no longer present.  For example, if a business owner displays a firearm at a would-be robber, the robber then runs away, (and) the business owner chases after them and shoots at the suspect as they run away,” he said.

“From what I have heard about the (Estates Consignments) case, there does not appear to be any wrongdoing by the business owner, but the case is still under investigate on,” Kleven added.

In the wake of the recent incident, Marcu noted having male employees now carrying weapons and even some female members of the staff have received firearm training. Local gun shops also stepped forward to offer their support.

Likewise, words and prayers of support have come from his loyal customer base and the public at large, of which he has been most appreciative receiving.

A changing world

Growing up in Romania when it was under Communist rule, Marcu wanted no part of that life, and at age 19 he escaped to Germany where he eventually trained as an architect.

Making his way to America in the late 1970s, he found success designing homes in posh Blackhawk, but when economy turned in the early 1980s and homes weren’t being built, he turned to jewelry and hung out a shingle in Danville.

Another economic downturn in 2010, and Marcu pivoted again, this time into the consignments industry and he looked to the quiet town of Pleasant Hill.

“I remember when you did business with a handshake,” he said with a smile, and a person’s word meant something.

But 18 years after opening his Pleasant Hill business, the world has changed, and he doesn’t like it.

Marcu, to say the least, is frustrated with the level of lawlessness that is occurring and how criminals are being treated.

“Every time the police catch them, the DA cuts them loose,” he said. “It is out of control.”

“I think we (the people) should come first,” Marcu added.

David Scholz
David Scholz

David Scholz is back in journalism as a freelance writer and photographer after nearly two decades in education. Prior to moving into teaching in 2000, he worked as a full-time journalist since 1988 for rural community and small daily newspapers in Central Ohio and Northern Nevada, and later in California with The Business Journal in Fresno and dailies in the Bay Area, including The Oakland Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle. More recently Scholz also worked in an editing, writing, and page layout role with the Rossmoor News.