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Armed Bike Thieves Targeting Bicyclists In Oakland-Berkeley Hills

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) -- The East Bay bicycling community is on the alert after the rise of a troubling trend: armed robberies targeting bicyclists.

Police said some of the latest robberies have taken place on popular cycling routes like Grizzly Peak Boulevard. Detectives are working to determine if the same people were involved in the recent robberies.

UC Berkeley and Oakland Police said the latest robbery happened on Saturday April 10, at around 2 p.m. In that incident, multiple suspects used a gun to rob someone of a Transition full-suspension mountain bike.

Transition is a high-end brand that produces carbon-fiber bicycles that sell for between $3,000 and $10,000. Police said the suspects drove away in a black or green Volkswagen or Volvo with California license plate number 5DJK736.

"You think you live in a society. And then you get like a mile away from everyone, and it's the wild West. So it's pretty scary," said Berkeley cyclist Benjamin Sarason.

Sarason said after hearing about the recent robberies on Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Wildcat Canyon Road in the Oakland and Berkeley Hills, he has stopped biking with his wallet and keys.

"I don't even bring a phone anymore because, you know, that's just another thing people can take," said Sarason.

The newspaper Berkeleyside reported at least four people have been robbed of their bikes in the area in recent weeks. There were also a couple of failed attempted robberies.

"What I'm referring to as bike-jacking, you know? It becomes a lot more violent, a lot more scary," said Jessica Jensen, a member of the board of directors for the Grizzly Peak Cyclists Club.

The bike club has about 550 members.

"For now, when I'm doing a solo ride, I'm going to avoid Grizzly Peak and probably Wildcat as well," said Jensen.

The club is still doing weekly rides on Grizzly Peak.

"We are concerned. So with yesterday's ride, we had a little prep talk to talk about what we can do to be safe," said Grizzly Peak Cyclists Club President Mary Ann Jawili.

Police advise cyclists not to ride alone and instead ride with a large group or at least with one other person.

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