Police are warning residents about a series of robberies around the Richmond BART station.
Since January, 18 robberies were reported near the station and in the surrounding neighborhoods, police Lt. Andre Hill said. The thieves are mostly after smartphones and have been robbing victims who are distracted by the devices, Hill said.
About three-quarters of the robberies involved multiple suspects who were either armed or simulated having a gun, Sgt. Eric Smith said. A few cases resulted in injury to the victim, and in one case shots were fired by the robber, although no one was injured, Smith said.
Many of the victims have been Hispanic. Thieves believe Hispanics are less likely to report crimes to police due to either a language barrier or fear of federal immigration authorities, Hill said.
Immigrants who are victims or witnesses of crimes in Richmond have no reason to fear deportation, Hill said.
“We are a sanctuary city,” he said. “We don’t report your action to ICE if you are a victim or witness.”
On Tuesday, Richmond police passed out flyers and went door-to-door in the neighborhoods to remind residents to pay attention to their surroundings.
Police have also beefed up patrols around the BART station during commute times, when the robberies seem to happen the most often, Hill said.