Bikers who regularly use the MacArthur BART Station, this message is for you.
Since early July, armed robbers have targeted bikers arriving and departing from the station. The suspects seem to be teenagers traveling in pairs or in a group of three, according to the Oakland Police Department. Sometimes the teens are on bikes and, at other times, they’re on foot. There are no particular pattern to the type of person they’re targeting, except that the victims have all been lone bikers and the attacks have mostly taken place late at night and in the early morning, primarily in the Longfellow and Santa Fe neighborhoods. In about half of the cases, the suspects have stolen the victim’s bike and, throughout the month of July, the robberies have increased in frequency.
So, what can you do if you’re biking in the area? We asked Oakland Police Captain Anthony Toribio, who said the best thing is remain aware of your surroundings and ride with a partner whenever possible. “If something doesn’t feel right, put yourself in a position to get out of that area or situation,” he said. If you see something go down, the OPD wants you to come forward. Toribio said the most important information to relay is descriptions of the suspects and what direction you last saw them go. Worst case scenario, if you end up being targeted, be aware that the suspects may have weapons, get out of the situation as safely as possible, and call 911.
If you were targeted and haven’t reported it to the OPD yet, you can call the non-emergency line at (510) 777-3333 to give them the details.
This somewhat unusual trend comes on the tail of many stories about increased crime in North Oakland. There were a slew of robberies at the Rockridge BART Station a couple of years ago, as well as countless reports of theft, vandalism, and assaults throughout the North Oakland area since. This spike in crime has triggered everything from the controversial hiring of private security guards to patrol communities to heated talks of gentrification. Amid all the buzz, it’s easy to become numb to what’s going on and, perhaps, ignore it.
Some perspective, though: I’m an Oakland native and, while I do try to be careful, I generally don’t spend too much time worrying about falling victim to crime. In June, I took my dad out for a belated-Father’s Day dinner at Burma Superstar in Temescal, which is adjacent to Longfellow and Santa Fe. As we left, a panhandler aggressively thrust his baseball cap to my dad’s chest and we noticed some glass on the ground from the car windows that are regularly smashed throughout the neighborhood, but other than that, the evening seemed uneventful. We grabbed some ice cream near my apartment and then went our separate ways. Maybe an hour later, I got a call from my dad to turn on the news. A young woman and her father had wrapped up a belated-Father’s Day dinner on the very same block and at the very same time as us. They were walking to their car when they encountered two men beating a woman at 48th and Shattuck. Luckily, they were able to scare off the men without getting hurt themselves and, from what I could tell from the news segments, the woman had some belongings stolen in the scuffle but will be okay.
It hit close to home and was a reminder that although we shouldn't live in fear, we should always be vigilant. Though the OPD, BART Police, and Emeryville PD are aware of the situation at MacArthur and are tightening up their enforcement strategies, remember to stay safe, friends.
Photo by Robert Prinz via Flickr