Concern is up in Oakland about the rising number of juveniles robbing and carjacking people since late last month, police said this week.
Youth as young as 11 years old are carjacking and robbing people throughout the city.
Nineteen such cases have been reported since Dec. 3. Stolen cars are used to rob more people, according to police. The youth are between 11 and 16 years old and are working together in groups of four to six.
“It is my hope that everyone is alarmed by the fact that it appears these violent acts are being committed by middle-school-age youth, barely more than children, armed with weapons.”Interim police Chief Susan Manheimer
“This not only poses a great risk to our community but also to the offenders and their young peers,” she said.
Over the past week, officers have taken 11 people into custody and are looking for more suspects, police said. “It’s very concerning for us,” Lt. Robert Muniz of the robbery unit said. The youth are getting into situations where they may get hurt if the approach the wrong person, Muniz said. The suspects appear to know each other or grew up together.
Muniz said police don’t want to just address the offense. “It goes beyond getting a suspect into custody,” he said, with police wanting to try to steer the youth back on the right path.
Some of the robberies have involved a gun, others a knife and others the threat of force. No one has been seriously hurt, Muniz said.
The Police Department is collaborating with the Oakland Department of Violence Prevention, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, and the Alameda County Probation Department to prevent more carjackings and robberies and get the youth the help they need. Police are looking into what kind of outreach they can do, which might include talking with a youth’s parent or guardian, Muniz said. Officers are brainstorming to identify what programs and guidance they can offer the youth, he said.
Anyone with information about the robberies and carjackings is asked to call the Police Department’s Robbery Section at (510) 238-3326.