By Juliette Goodrich

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — A community is rallying around an East Bay grocery store clerk who got fired for trying to stop a crime. People can’t understand why trying to do the right thing got him canned.

When residents of Oakland’s Montclair District found out a beloved Lucky store employee of 17 years was fired for stopping a late night shoplifter they were outraged.

READ MORE: Gov. Newsom Signs Executive Order to Halt Pandemic Evictions Through June

They all know him by his first name, Tang.

“His reward is getting fired from his job,” said Bradley White.

“I thought it was appalling,” said Diane Noroian, who lives in Montclair. “He followed the man out of the store and was spit on.”

Indeed, Tang was spit on by the shoplifter, and then fired by his company.

Lucky’s said it is corporate policy that employees don’t physically engage with customers.

But in a community worried about crime, many appreciated a store employee’s efforts to protect customers and try to stop a crime from happening.

“In the Village itself, there have been laptops stolen, purses stolen – it’s frightening ,” said Noroian. “I don’t feel safe coming down to the Village.”

READ MORE: Armed Guards, Volunteers Join Police to Patrol Streets in Oakland's Chinatown

Many appreciated a store employee’s efforts to protect customers and try to stop a crime from happening.

Montclair resident Kathy Neal is one of them.

“On a day honoring Martin Luther King, a man who broke the rules to do the right thing, this is appropriate we are here trying to support someday who did exactly that,” she said.

“We do not have enough police patrolling the hills,” said Bradley White.

Some customers have even started a #SaveTang movement online.

“There is an explosion on Nextdoor, there are all these posts,” said White. “People are outraged this guy worked 17 years and later we find out he got fired.”

Tang didn’t want to go on camera, but he told KPIX 5 he didn’t want to break the rules, he was just tired of seeing the shoplifting happening, over and over again.

MORE NEWS: Royals Week: Rare Archival Footage Of Princess Margaret's 1965 SF Visit Unearthed

Other employees said they’ve seen an increase in shoplifting, ever since customers have been asked to bring in their own bags. They fill up their bags and leave without paying at the register.

Juliette Goodrich