OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- A warning went out to mountain bikers in the Oakland hills Friday, alerting to a recent spree of several armed robberies targeting cyclists.
Avid mountain biker Louisa Spier was believed to be the first victim in the recent cases.'
"Everything about it just fitted me perfect. The handlebars, the seat, I could lift it up," described Spier of her beloved Giant Trance X29 mountain bike.
On Tuesday, March 29th around noon, she was riding solo on the Skyline Boulevard median trail near Parkridge drive not far from Oakland Fire Station 21. Spier said three masked suspects cornered her.
"The first one just said, 'Give me your bike' and I started to get off my bike," Spier told KPIX. "And the one on the street came and pointed a gun at me and said, 'Give us your bike'"
Spier jumped off her bike and ran into oncoming traffic. She said a woman driving on Skyline Boulevard stopped, let her in and drove her away from the gunman.
"To have a gun pointed at your face when you're out just trying to enjoy nature and clear your mind is like the worse possible experience," Spier said.
Police said after Spier's robbery, they responded to two other robberies of mountain bikers on Skyline Boulevard near Joaquin Miller Road.
On March 31st, robbers pulled a gun on a father and son to take their bike. On April 6th at the same location, robbers took two bikes from bikers who were riding together.
The biking community reported on social media there was a fourth gunpoint robbery this week on a group of three bikers at the end of Skyline Boulevard near the Clyde Woolridge Staging parking lot. Police have not confirmed a fourth case.
"We made the decision to move our practice location this week because this rash of thefts," said Morgan Fletcher, a mountain bike coach.
He and fellow volunteers coach about 100 middle schoolers on how to bike in the Oakland Hills. Aside from moving their location, they now strongly encourage parents to pick up their kids after each session.
"We're guiding the children that if someone asks for you bike, just give them the bike," Fletcher said.
Last April, Berkeley police reported a group of robbers targeting bicyclists near Grizzly Peak. It was unclear if police arrested that group.
Victims in the latest cases reported on social media the robbers were driving SUV's. And given the proximity of the recent locations, the victims suspected the latest cases were connected.
But Oakland police have not released any information on the suspects.
Police report that the number of overall robberies involving guns in Oakland is down slightly this year compared to last. They said from January 1 to April 3, 2021, there were 324 gunpoint robberies.
In the same period this year, there were 307 cases.
"We try to ride in big groups now," mountain biker Jose Luis Monroy said. " We love to do night rides, (but) we start to avoid that."
The crimes may be the latest in crimes of opportunity. Many carbon fiber bikes cost between $5,000 and $10,000.
Spier said her bike was worth less, but it was the perfect Christmas gift from her husband a few months ago.
"(I'm) really afraid and upset and scared to go back out on a bike right now," Spier said.
Safety advocates used to tell bikers to ride with at least one other person. Now they are telling people to ride in very large groups, citing strength in numbers.
Oakland police said they were deploying more officers to areas where they were seeing spikes in robberies.
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