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Cyclist mugged, threatened on Locksley

on November 17, 2008


Nov. 21–A bicyclist was mugged and threatened four doors from her Locksley Avenue home last week in an incident that police call “a random act,” but that worried neighbors and may have been the second attack on a local cyclist in recent weeks. 

Shortly after 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, a woman who asked not to be identified was riding her bicycle down the 5300-block of Locksley Avenue toward her home, she said, when she saw a dark, four-door station wagon pass and stop ahead of her. A young man — described in the police report as about 20 years old, African American, 5’6” tall, and 120 pounds, and wearing a dark beanie and dark hooded sweatshirt — stepped out of the car, the woman said, and blocked her way. She said he demanded her purse, which she handed over. The woman then heard someone in the car say “shoot her,”  she said. The threat sent her running down the block, her bike left behind on the street. 

Oakland Police Officer Roberto Ruiz responded to the scene, but the suspects had left the area by the time he arrived.

“She did everything right,” said Officer Jeff Thomason, the Oakland Police Department’s Public Information Officer. “She didn’t try to fight them.” 

Living in a city, said Thomason, crime is bound to happen even in residential areas like Locksley Avenue, meaning residents should always exercise caution. 

“Anytime you’re out at night,” he said, “especially riding your bike at 11:30 on a Friday night, you have to be aware of your surroundings.” 

Thomason said that he had not heard of similar incidents, but if online Yahoo groups and community e-mail listserves are any indication, assaults on bikers in North Oakland are not as rare as the officer believes.

 Oct. 24, Oakland resident Ron Bishop posted a report of a bike assault on Shafter Street near 45th Street on a Yahoo group. According to the post, a female cyclist was attacked at about 7 p.m. that evening when a young man on a bike rode up behind her and pushed her over. Bishop wrote that two other young men, also on bikes, cheered the assailant on.

 “This is the third incident I am aware of and this behavior needs to stop,” wrote Bishop, who detailed what he called a “history” of three young teenagers — one with dreadlocks on a BMX bike, one with a round face and close-cropped hair on a 10-speed bike and the third on a mountain bike — following other bicyclists and pushing them over. “The victim was not able to identify the assailants as she was busy eating pavement,” he wrote. Bishop reported that the victim walked away from the attack with a scraped knee and an injured elbow.

The woman who was mugged Friday night was not injured. She did not recognize the man who stopped her and it is not known whether the incident is related to the reported pushover attacks in October. “I’d never heard of this street before, which is a good thing,” noted Thomason. “That means there isn’t a lot of crime on that street.”

Locksley Avenue resident Steve Belcher, however, would beg to differ. Belcher, who has lived in North Oakland since 1975, said that in the past year, he has noticed people “checking out” houses on Locksley Avenue, “testing the door handles.”

“I’d challenge them and they’d leave,” he said.

Belcher believes the location of Locksley Avenue — near Rockridge BART, a freeway ramp, and the DMV on Claremont– makes it an easy target. Still, Belcher said, Friday’s incident “was very bold,” speaking to what he thinks is a lack of fear of the Oakland Police Department among criminals.

“The chances of being caught are very low,” Belcher said. “It doesn’t matter how many police you have if it’s not being managed. The system is so dysfunctional, getting caught is not a threat.”

Thomason said that the department always follows up to the extent that is possible given the amount of information it obtains. In the case of Friday’s mugging, the descriptions of the suspects and the vehicle are too vague to provide any leads.

“If we get any similars, of course we look into it,” said Thomason. “Or if the victim sees the suspect again and calls us. If we don’t get help from the public, there’s not much we can do.”||||||||||||||

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