Community meeting held after terrifying Oakland Ring video gains attention

Video of a screaming woman being robbed at her front door has crystalized the fear many Oakland residents are feeling. 

Wednesday night, about 60 people filled a community meeting, worried about a surge in street crime that is increasingly violent. 

"A lot of us are becoming afraid to leave our homes, even during the day," said one woman, addressing police at the front of the room. 

"Armed robberies with weapons on people getting out of their car after work, that's unusual," said another man. 

Police acknowledge the uptick. 

One patrol area in the Oakland hills had 14 armed robberies in all of 2019, but has already had 4 so far in 2020. 

The doorbell security video, widely circulated on the Nextdoor App, shows a woman shrieking in fear as a man with a gun suddenly accosts her just after midnight Monday. 

"It terrified my wife to see that, she's very afraid," said Oakland resident Derek Krause, who attended the meeting. 

Krause said he lives a few exits away from the Keller Avenue location where the woman was robbed. 

He and other residents say it could have happened to any of them, because car break-ins and burglaries have escalated to bold hold-ups at all hours. 

Another surveillance video on Nextdoor shows a man walking on Fairfax Avenue, when a car pulls up, and a man with a gun jumps out and robs him. 

"My little area has been really affected by the robberies that have happened," said Brian Cash, who came to the meeting to request more police presence, especially in the evenings.  

"People at gunpoint, being held up in their driveways, at their doorways, for cell phones, it's ridiculous and frightening," he said.   
OPD told the audience that gang members steal to support their lifestyles.

"It's very much the same group of people responsible for most of these property crimes," said Lt. Kevin Kaney. 

And ironically, the department's crackdown on robbery in the Oakland flatlands seems to be shifting it into the hills. 

"That might have pushed it, kind of relocated it, so we have to get our hands on where our trends are happening."

But residents complain when they call, police don't come. 

"My husband was home and someone tried to get in our house, and we called but no one came," complained one woman.

"We even had handprints on the windows."  

Other residents are aggravated that when suspects are caught- they don't stay in custody. 

"Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen break-ins and they're still walking around. What's up with that?," demanded another questioner.   

The Oakland city councilman for the area, District 6, tried to reassure the crowd. 

"I was literally taken aback when I saw the video," said councilman Loren Taylor, noting that crime statistics don't tell the whole story, because such incidents are personal.  

"If I was never a victim of crime and tomorrow I am, my statistic went from zero to one hundred percent."

The video has generated much discussion on the Nextdoor site, with some commenters calling Oakland "unlivable."    

"I don't think Oakland is becoming unlivable, but that's the initial reaction and emotion to the video," said Krause, "it's come on, help us out."

Police say they will step-up patrols, and a property crimes task force in being formed that will include police department's from other East Bay cities.

They advise residents to be vigilant, deploy cameras, and communicate with each other, including Neighborhood Watch groups.  

Taylor plans to hold a larger town-hall meeting on public safety in his district on Saturday Feb. 8 from 10 am-12 pm at Merritt College.