Oakland crime crackdown vowed in wake of robbery spree and arrests

Oakland city and police officials said Wednesday that their crime crackdown will continue in the wake of a robbery spree that led to arrests, even as some community advocates urged the city to invest in more social service programs to help prevent crime.

"If you are thinking to commit crimes in the city of Oakland, you will be caught," Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said at a City Hall news conference, a day after Oakland police announced the arrests of nine juveniles - the youngest only 12 years old - in nearly three dozen robberies in Oakland, Piedmont and El Cerrito.

The group's been linked to the robbery and assault of a 63-year-old woman outside Rockridge Market Hall. 

KTVU has learned the same crew is also suspected in the holdup of another woman who was confronted in the Trestle Glen neighborhood by two carloads of robbers.

"We are not going to allow for our residents and our businesses to feel unsafe in our communities," Thao said.

Interim Police Chief Darren Allison said, "As we see this increase in violent crime involving young people, we do continue to collaborate with our restorative justice, outreach and mental programs and partners."

Councilmember Carroll Fife said there needs to be resources and consequences – and a closer look at the teens' family situation.

"The reality is that when children engage in this type of criminal activity, it's probably connected to some adults somewhere in the pipeline," Fife said.

Police and Councilmember Dan Kalb, who represents the Rockridge District, met with merchants and residents along College Avenue, including Sharon Zinke, who now carries pepper spray after being robbed near her home last year. 

"They shoved me down," Zinke said.

"How many were there?" Kalb asked.

"Two," she replied.

"Did they push you down, kick you?" Kalb asked.

"They wrestled me down," Zinke said.

Hours earlier across town in the Dimond District, two pizza shops near Fruitvale Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard were picking up the pieces after break-ins. An intruder can be seen on surveillance video using what looks like a sledgehammer.


Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao reflects on first 150 days in office, addresses challenges moving forward

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"I don't know what can be done. Maybe more police on the street or what, I don't know," said Dimond Slice co-owner Dwight Ferron.

But at a news conference outside city hall, some community leaders said the city should fund more intervention programs. 

"We are addressing the root causes of violence in ways that policing has never and could never address," said Frankie Free Ramos of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice.

Henry Lee is a KTVU crime reporter. E-mail Henry at Henry.Lee@fox.com and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and facebook.com/henrykleefan