Passengers of San Francisco’s BART commuter train system were terrorized Saturday when a large gang of up to 60 teens swarmed onto a train and began robbing and beating passengers, transit officials reported Monday morning.
The large group of between 40 and 60 teens hopped onto a Dublin/Pleasanton-bound train at the Coliseum Station in Oakland at around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and began forcing passengers to hand over wallets, purses, cell phones, and other valuables, witnesses said according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Those who did not comply were beaten.
According to a police report, the teens “committed multiple strong-arm robberies of bags and cell phones. At least two victims suffered head/facial injuries requiring medical attention.”
A Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) official said one person was robbed on the platform, while up to six more were attacked and robbed on the train.
Paramedics treated two victims at the scene.
Officials say the robbery was planned like a Blitzkrieg with the teens swarming the station, forcing the traindoors open, rushing into the train and robbing passengers, and then disappearing into an East Oakland neighborhood — all in a matter of minutes.
“We are in the process of pulling all surveillance video, and we will share with Oakland police, Oakland Unified School District, and Oakland Housing Authority to see if they can help identify the minors,” BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said. “We have had success with sharing images of juveniles with this group and identifying and making arrests in the past.”
Police will not release the video or still shots of the surveillance for fear that some of the suspects are minors.
The transit system only last week hired a new police chief after a rise in the number of robberies and violence in stations and on trains. The pressure rose after a recent exposé of the system by the Chronicle revealed that many of BART’s train cameras were dummies meant as decoys and don’t actually record anything.
A passenger was murdered in a West Oakland-bound train in January of last year. Killed was 19-year-old Carlos Misael Funez-Romero, who died just before 8:00 p.m. on January 9. Even though caught on camera, the murderer has never been identified.
Strong-arm robberies have also risen on BART. Early in March, the family of a 12-year-old boy sued BART after the child was robbed at gunpoint in the stairwell at the El Cerrito del Norte station. The family said the transit system did not respond properly to the robbery and there were no working surveillance cameras to act as a deterrent.
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