It sounds like the Oakland Police Department has solved the case of a string of robberies across multiple neighborhoods, and the culprits are a group of juveniles. But the 35 robberies they've been connected to represent only a fraction of a recent wave of crime in Oakland.
On Sunday, Oakland police arrested a group of nine juveniles — three girls and six boys — in connection with 35 robberies that occurred in over a dozen neighborhoods across the city, as well as in the city of El Cerrito. This appears to be a different crew than the one that police last week arrested in connection with a string of at least 10 robberies in some of these same neighborhoods, including one in Trestle Glen in which a gun was shot at the ground and shrapnel from the bullet injured a small child.
In a news release, the OPD says that officers spotted a vehicle connected to a number of robberies on the 100 block of 14th Street on May 21. "Multiple occupants exited the vehicle and went into a nearby establishment," police say. "Officers methodically coordinated a plan before entering the location. As officers arrived, the vehicle in front of the establishment took off at a high rate of speed."
Five juveniles were arrested at this establishment, and four others were arrested after a police helicopter followed the vehicle that fled to 6th Avenue and East 15th Street. All nine were arrested on suspicion of robbery.
The robberies allegedly committed by this crew spanned neighborhoods including Rockridge, Grand Lake, Trestle Glen, Mosswood, Longfellow, and the town of Piedmont.
Is there a particular uptick in criminal activity among teens going on? The OPD says that it is investigating "several different robbery series" around the city, and many of the crimes appear to be being committed by juveniles. Overall, robberies are up 7% compared to this time last year.
KPIX has video from a news conference Tuesday with interim OPD Chief Darren Allison, during which the chief talked about a recent week in which the city saw 100 robberies.
"Some of the robberies including carjackings, shootings, and other assaults," Allison said. "Based on the unacceptable increase I immediately tasked my command staff with refocusing and prioritizing our approach to addressing carjackings and robberies in the city of Oakland." Part of that refocusing, Allison said, is focusing on restorative justice and crime prevention programs with regard to juvenile offenders.
Interim Chief of Violence Prevention Kentrell Killens also spoke Tuesday, per SFGate, saying, "We have a connection with the probation department, which allows us at this time to go in and to begin the process of meeting with young people and building those relationships. So that as they return to the community, they return with a connection to positive adults. They return with a connection and a commitment from this community. These are our babies, these are our children, and they deserve a chance to get things together. They deserve a chance to have the level of support to help them turn things around."
And Mayor Sheng Thao said, "We’re taking all of this very seriously, and we’re taking all different approaches to ensure a better and stronger quality of life in the city of Oakland because that’s what our residents and businesses deserve."
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images