Surge in gold-necklace snatchings in Fremont

Fremont police are warning about a surge in street robberies, targeting gold chains. 

Six women have had their necklaces snatched since May 4, and some have been injured as they are yanked from their necks. Suspects have been described as different men of different racial backgrounds: white, African-American, South Asian and Latino.

"It took seconds, just a few seconds, and then he ran down the street," said Fremont resident Craig Cesco, whose home video system captured an especially rough encounter on May 8. "I was surprised she was knocked down, and as violent as it was." 

A video he took shows a woman walking on the sidewalk near Oliveira School, when an oncoming man suddenly throws her to the ground and tears off her gold necklace.  

"From what I understand she was going to volunteer at the school, or do something at the school," said Liz Cespa, 

The couple was not home when it happened at 1:40 p.m., directly across from their house. 

But when investigators arrived and scanned through their video, they found the images: the robber with his phone to his ear as he approaches, then his swift attack knocking the victim off her feet. .

"She jumped right up afterward, but she was startled and didn't know what to do," Craig Cespa said, "so she got on her phone right away and I think she was trying to call her husband or something." 

The suspect, a  man in his 20's, height 5'8"- 5'10", dashed away. 

"It's frightening that somebody would even do that, and a shame you can't wear your gold jewelry in broad daylight because something like that could happen," said  Liz Cespa. 

Another brutal incident on May 6 caused serious injuries. 

A woman was pumping gas on Fremont Boulevard,when the suspect tired to pull her gold necklace off. 
She resisted, and he pulled her through the station until she fell to the ground. 

Then he reached down for the necklace, and struck her in the face.

Investigators have high-quality video from the gas station, which is helpful in that case.

The next day, however, a woman opened her front door on Fremont Boulevard, to someone who was purchasing an item from her off Facebook Marketplace. 

Instead the man  snatched her chain.

"I wore it before but not now, I am too scared since last year," Fremont resident Paramgit Kaur told KTVU, as she walked with a friend on Alder Avenue, site of the May 8 assault. 

Kaur notes, it's not the first time the South Asian Indian community has been targeted for the gold pieces they are fond of.     

"It's more than jewelry to us," said Kaur, "IIndian people love gold, it's very expensive." 

Due to the danger, Kaur says she is leaving their gold jewelry at home.  

"Bangles, earrings, all of it, not safe," said Kaur, "only when I go to a party with my husband or my family would I wear gold anymore."

Police note it's not the same suspect every time. 

In the first robbery, May 4, a man ran up behind a woman as she strolled with her husband at 10:20 a.m. on Lake Mead Drive.

On May 11, a victim leaving a grocery store on Argonaut Way was robbed of her gold chain, and police say that theft involved two people, a black man and woman, both about 20 years old.    

The only two that appear to be related occurred near elementary schools. 

That's how the May 8 robbery occurred, along with the most recent attack, May 16, on a woman pushing a stroller and walking with her child.

A crossing guard ran to help her as that suspect sped off in a silver or gray sedan.    

The couple providing surveillance video hope it assists the investigation and curbs the callous robberies. 

"We've been here for 30 years, so it's kind of emotional, " said Liz Cespa, "because you don't want to have this happen in your neighborhood." 

Fremont Police are urging women who customarily wear a lot of gold jewelry to reconsider, or at least conceal it under clothing when in public.