OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Crews of Oakland teenagers carried out brazen robberies this May and fueled violent crime in the city, according to investigators.

Oakland Interim Police Chief Darren Allison said, “We’ve seen a surge in violence. Two weeks ago, our city experienced 100 robberies in one week, 50 of which occurred in 72 hours over a weekend. Some of the robberies included car-jackings, shootings, and other assaults.”

“A trend we are seeing with robberies has been an increase involvement of minors,” Allison said.

Robberies are 7% higher compared to this same time period in 2022. “The City of Oakland has been terrorized by violent individuals wreaking havoc and committing robberies upon unassuming community members,” the Oakland Police Department wrote. “Robbery crews are brazenly victimizing individuals at alarming rates.”

Allison said the surge is “unacceptable,” and he ordered his officers to prioritize cracking down on young thieves responsible for it.

Within just the last week, police officers arrested 14 juveniles.

Allison and Mayor Sheng Thao held a news conference Wednesday vowing to hold the juveniles accountable and face real consequences in court.

Oakland’s police chief and mayor hold a news conference on May 24, 2023 to detail a surge in violent robberies throughout the city. (Image courtesy OPD)

The mayor said her office, the police chief, and the Department of Violence Prevention are utilizing a comprehensive approach to send a message that crime doesn’t pay, and give juveniles supportive opportunities for improving their lives.

Nobody wants to grow up to be a thief, Thao said. “We will be giving more resources to our young people … but on the same token, we also must make sure there is justice. It is not OK for you to come to Oakland and commit crimes,” Thao said.

The mayor said Oakland is reinvesting in the police force to increase foot patrol officers walking the streets, as well as bringing back motorcycle unit officers. At the same time, Thao said the city will also give young Oaklanders resources for making better life choices.

OPD commanders used intelligence-led policing to make significant arrests.

On May 15, five arrests were made — three adults and 2 juveniles — who were connected to 10 armed robberies in Oakland, Allison said.

On May 21, police officers found one serial robbery crew hanging out at an “establishment” on 14th Street, OPD said. A high-speed car chase and foot pursuit ensued until officers nabbed nine fleeing suspects. The teenagers ranged in ages from 12 to 17. Three girls and six were arrested for robbery. Five more suspects were also arrested back at the “establishment.” Investigators connected the busted crew to 35 robberies.

Victims are left struggling with trauma. Thao said, “All families deserve to feel safe. My home was also broken into years ago and my 12 year old was home alone. That was traumatizing. What we have seen in recent weeks and months has been disheartening.”

Some of the robberies went viral on social media through videos shot by witnesses.

One robbery was thwarted by a tow truck driver who deliberately rammed his truck into a robbery crew’s SUV. The tow truck driver reportedly saw a woman being robbed at gunpoint, and he decided to take action. A witness’ cellphone video recorded the tow truck ramming the SUV and then chase it as the robbers fled the area.

A 15-month-old baby was struck by shrapnel in a stroller during an attempted robbery on Trestle Glen Road May 16. The baby was being pushed in a stroller by a grandmother at 11 a.m. when two men attempted to rob the grandmother at gunpoint, police said.

After the baby was injured, Oakland resident Lynn Mladjov told KRON4, “It seems everyone is a target. This is no way to live. I want to see some action, see people caught, to be punished for what they did. We don’t want to live in fear.”

The OPD’s investigations into the robbery crime spike is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Oakland Police Department Robbery Section at 510-238-3326.