A popular shopping and entertainment center was a site of a terrifying carjacking and robbery this week, police said. Thieves suddenly swarmed two shoppers to the Bay Street shopping complex in Emeryville, Calif., across the bay from San Francisco, first stealing their purses and then the car that was parked in the garage.
The carjacking in Emeryville is the latest to occur in the East Bay, where the crimes are occurring more frequently and in low-crime areas.
"On 7/12/2021, at approx. 2:45 p.m., a carjacking and robbery occurred in the 5600 block of Bay Street," Emeryville Police stated in a media release. "Two young women visiting the area parked their vehicle. As the women exited their vehicle, three to four unknown suspects physically attacked the women, ripped their purses from them and stole their car. A bystander captured part of the attack on camera, including the suspect vehicle, which appears similar to a late 90’s to early 2000 dark gray Lexus ES300 with no license plates. Both victims sustained minor injuries and were treated at the scene by EMS personnel. The victim’s vehicle was recovered a short time later in the City of Oakland. There is no information available at this time to indicate the victims were targeted as a result of their race. Anyone with information about these crimes, the suspect vehicle or those responsible, is asked to call Emeryville Police Detective John Corcoran at 510-596-3734 (EPD Case 2107-0937)."
Police in neighboring Oakland have recorded a big uptick in the number of cars being taken at gunpoint
“Many of these incidents appear to be crimes of opportunity, where the stolen vehicles are used in other criminal acts like residential robberies and theft of personal belongings," Oakland Police stated. "Often, multiple suspects are involved in committing these crimes. In some cases, victims have reported that they are sitting in their vehicles when they are confronted by armed individuals. In the past, there have been reported cases of individuals approaching victims in their vehicles at stoplights or stop signs. The individuals have broken the victim’s window and tried to take their property (purses, laptops, and cellphones sitting on the seats)."
Investigators are also warning that criminals may be using another terrifying tactic to steal cars.
"There are also reports of individuals intentionally crashing their vehicles into a victim’s vehicle," police warned. "When the victim attempts to exchange information, the suspects steal their vehicle."
Emeryville residents said they've noticed an increase in criminal activity at Bay Street, a popular outdoor mall that has an Apple Store, movie theater, restaurants, and other retail outlets. One person stated in a Nextdoor posting there has been muggings and other attacks targeting shoppers.
Commenters on an online forum decried how far the commercial mixed-use development has fallen since the pandemic.
"So, my husband and I went by there last Saturday, and wow... It is sooooo sad," one person stated. "There is so much that is gone now. I couldn't believe it. And yes, I know that we're in a pandemic but there's no fun here. There's no scene here. And because everything closes so early, it was a waste of a walk from the public market. The feeling I used to get from being in the area is gone and I don't know that I'll be back. Chico's, William Sonoma, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Sees, too sad... Now the Republic and Navy moved to the shopping area across the street, but this place which was soooo moneyed is a shell of what it used to be. And that's unfortunate."