BART Police End Robbery Sprees, Ask For Public's Help
Four men are behind bars tonight after BART Police arrested them for cornering riders, confronting them and then ripping off items such as iPods, computers, credit cards and cash. The arrests come on the heels of news that riding BART is even safer than it was a year ago. Overall violent crime on BART, which is rare to begin with, is now down 26% year over year and robberies are down 30%.
The four arrests mean BART officers have quickly ended two equally brazen but unrelated robbery sprees that began two weeks ago. Now investigators are asking for the public's help in identifying more victims or witnesses.
The first arrest was in San Francisco on Saturday, November 20 when officers caught 23-year-old Donail James of Oakland at the Montgomery Street BART Station. James was wanted in a series of earlier robberies at that station. As a result of the BART Police investigation, the San Francisco District Attorney's office filed four counts of robbery charges and one count of possession of stolen property against James.
"The good news is this guy's crime spree is over," BART Police Lt. Andy Alkire said. "This man was so bold and brazen during the at least four robberies we know of, he simply thought he could just walk through the middle of the Montgomery Street BART Station and possibly get away with another one. However, thanks to two BART officers with great memories, they recognized James from an internal bulletin and arrested him while out they were out on patrol as part of our new effort to increase police presence in stations and on trains."
BART Police believe James was involved in similar robberies in or near the same BART Station.
"That's why we are asking for the public to come forward," Lt. Alkire said. "There may be others who have witness to or a victim of a robbery in the past few weeks and didn't report it. They should call (877) 679-7000 and dial extension 7040."
In the second case, three men surrounded a customer at the Richmond BART Station on Monday, November 22. They demanded his money and threatened to beat him if he refused. The victim was able to break away and report the incident to a Station Agent who called BART Police. Officers arrived and detained three suspects. They are 23-year-old Landon Sims of San Pablo, 20-year-old Antonio Thomas of Richmond and 28-year-old Clifton Hall of Richmond. All are currently in the Contra Costa County jail in Martinez and face attempted robbery charges.
BART Even Safer - Violent Crime Down 26%, Robberies Down 30%
BART has become an even safer system to ride in the past year. Violent crimes on BART, which are uncommon to begin with, are down 26% between October 2009 and October 2010. In that same time period, the number of robberies is down 30%. Overall crime on BART is down 7.6%
Police Safety Tips for Holidays
The arrests come on the heels of a BART Police awareness campaign, which offers safety tips on BART and elsewhere:
- Shop during the daylight hours if you can. If you shop at night, take a trusted friend
- Stay alert of your surroundings at all times
- Park in a well-areas and lock your car. Hide shopping bags and belongings in your trunk prior to leaving your house - not while in the parking lot as thieves tend to watch for where you place your valuables
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and only bring one credit card
- Make sure your keys are readily accessible when approaching your vehicle and be sure not to buy more than you can safely carry with you
- Be aware of strangers who come up to you, particularly when you're overburdened with bags
- Be sure not to buy more than you can safely carry with you
- Program BART Police emergency line at (877)-679-7000 into your mobile phone for quick access
BART has produced a BARTtv News story providing more information about the BART Police safety awareness campaign and community policing efforts, including information on BART's safety escorts to your car if needed from a BART station.