BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — Members of the Berkeley High School mountain bike team were robbed at gunpoint over the weekend. A van and four bikes were stolen during the carjacking.
The head coach tells KRON4 it’s been a rough week for the team. After a tranquil bike trip in Napa County, three coaches and two student-athletes were held up at gunpoint when they got off the freeway in Berkeley on Saturday to drop one of the students off at home.
“Both men were wearing ski masks,” said head coach Nick Hoeper-Tomich.
Hoeper-Tomich says the carjacking and robbery happened just after 3 p.m. that afternoon at the busy residential intersection of Eighth and Virginia Streets.
“Two armed men came up in a car and ordered them to drop what they’re doing, get out of the car, and then they just took the car,” Hoeper-Tomich said.
The thieves drove off in a coach’s van with four bikes attached. Another bike was left behind but severely damaged. In all, the loss totals more than $20,000.
Hoeper-Tomich was apart of the group earlier in the day but was not there during the robbery. No one was injuried, but he feels for the traumatized athletes.
“It’s heartbreaking to think they might be discouraged by this happening,” Hoeper-Tomich said. “They love to ride and I don’t want anything to get in the way of that.”
To make matters worse, two days later, a student at Berkeley High School died after falling from a parking structure. The student was not apart of the team but was well-known to the club.
“So, we’ve been working through that,” Hoeper-Tomich said. “It’s been a pretty traumatic 72 hours with the team.”
Hoeper-Tomich says thieves are taking advantage of the high demand for bikes. Fortunately, the community has helped raise more than $23,000 to replace what was lost.
“With the supply chain issues from COVID, the bike industry’s experienced a boom that production hasn’t been able to keep up with,” Hoeper-Tomich said. “So, its pretty difficult to find components in bikes. I own a bike shop, and you know, I have trouble finding and sourcing stuff on a pretty regular basis. So, you know, there is a market out there.”
The Berkeley Police Department is reviewing surveillance footage that may have captured the robbery.