Oakland police see disturbing trend of teens carrying out robberies, carjackings

Police are seeing an alarming trend of teenagers committing violent crimes and in some cases, the offenders are no older than middle school-aged children.

Oakland Police Lt. Robert Muniz said the uptick in crime began in late November and has continued across the city. He said groups of teenagers are holding people up at gunpoint and robbing them or stealing their cars. In some instances, the juveniles use the stolen cars to commit other robberies. The most recent case in East Oakland involved suspects ranging in age from 11 to 16.

“It's unfortunate to see because they're kids,” Muniz said. “They're out there doing crimes that could obviously get the victims hurt and get themselves hurt.”

According to Muniz, there have been 19 combined incidents of carjackings and street robberies since Dec. 3. Sometimes the teens use force, knives, or guns to rob the victims. In roughly the last week, the police department arrested 11 young people and sent them to juvenile hall.

“It has to go beyond what we can do to mitigate what’s going on and what we can do going forward to turn them off the path they’re on,” Muniz said.

The pandemic has forced students into distance learning and many after schools programs have closed. Muniz acknowledged that the pandemic may play a factor and said everyone has been hit hard by the ongoing crisis. He said the department is working with the Department of Violence Prevention, the Alameda County Probation Department, and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to curb the uptick and provide resources.

“As a department, as a city, as a community, we owe it to these juveniles to reach out and see how we can help them more than just making an arrest and getting a case charged,” he said.

The Oakland Police Department is advising people to be aware of their surroundings, be alert when getting in and out of your car, and lock your doors at all times.