Monday, March 19, 2018

A Group of Robbers Forcibly Took My Laptop in BART near Hayward

Yesterday I got robbed in broad daylight in BART on the way back from San Francisco to Fremont. I was returning with my son after playing a chess tournament at Mechanics Chess Institute at San Francisco. On the way back to Fremont, the robbery happened just before the train stopped at Hayward station. My son was in the window seat listening to iPad and I was charging my iPhone with a cable attached to my Macbook Pro laptop. Inside the BART compartment there were less than 20 people all together, 5 of them were robbers - all african americans. Those were young guys about 18 to 22 years old I guess. Just when the train started to slow down to stop at Hayward Bart station, which is 4 stops before my home station Fremont, the robbers advanced and stood just beside me. Their leader, I guess because he was the tallest and fattest, first hit in my 2 hands from up-to-down like hammers to loosen my grip on my laptop. There was no pain or surprise. I instantly understood its a robbery case and as the guy started pulling my laptop, I also jumped and put my grip on the laptop. I started shouting that they are hijacking my laptop, help, call police while struggling to keep my grip on the laptop. They also started shouting after me like a scream so that no one can understand what I am saying. The people around must have been shocked but no one came in front, in fear of getting beaten (I suppose). All of them were between 5 feet 9 inch to 6 feet and I assume was ready for fist fight. I slowly stood up from sitting and continued to struggle with the laptop to not loose from my hand. 2 of them then pushed my shoulder and the leader slowly got the laptop away from my hand. He had to do it slowly because otherwise if he would slip the laptop would have hit his own companions. I then grabbed the backside of the jacket of the leader when his fellows started punching me. I was working on reflex and not consciously choosing exactly what to do. My only thing was, they have not right to forcibly take my staff. Due to the small space in the room, they didn't have a clear force to hit me and only 2 hits in either side of my head I could feel - not hard enough to have pain. Also I took some more beating in my body but I didn't realize neither did I care at that time. Finally I left the jacket thinking they might have knives if not guns, and anyway the other passengers are not coming to stop those guys. My intention was to hold them off for long enough that the door closes back trapping them inside. But I am no match in either strength or number to them. And I am worried what my son is thinking seeing his father struggling with a bunch of mugs. After about 30 to 40 seconds (seemed ages to me) the train stopped and the doors opened. So it would be too risky to try anything else alone while they were preparing to run away. In the meantime, I was half towards the other side of the door while holding the laptop, so when 4 of them ran away with the laptop through that door, I ran behind them while screaming to ask people to stop them. But then I was worried that the train may close the door and my son is inside. So I ran back to him and saw another of them running towards my seat. I rushed to him and he ran away without stopping near my son. All these things happened in 30 to 40 seconds although it seemed ages to me. I assume the 5th guy simply didn't have enough space come out of the door and because I was in front of him, so he went back to the other door near my son where he was still sitting. The other possibility is that he saw the iPhone falling down in my sit and also say my son has the iPad. But seeing me rushing towards him, he couldn't have taken the risk to have a one on one fight with me. So he didn't stop and ran away with that door. I rushed behind him a few steps but stopped again because my son is in the train. I then stood in between the door so that it doesn't close and hence the train can't move.

By that time I saw 2 young guys came in front to help me. One guy called 911 and another guy found my wallet 10 feet outside of the BART door in the station floor. I told them to call train driver and to keep the train standing there. I called 911 and they asked me about the description of the robbers. Sufficient to say, despite keeping the train in halt for half and hour, searching it myself and by police, we couldn't find them any more. When I went to station master's cube, he said he saw several of teenagers ran past out of the station. BART police talked to me and even sent 2 cops outside BART to see if they can suspect anyone. But by that time it was too late. They were gone.

My son, despite scared, didn't move from the seat and saved my iPhone that fell down on my seat and also hid the iPad he was using that time. I guess one lesson I learnt from this is that make your electronic gadget publicly visible in transit. I have had another situation 6/7 years back when I was returning from Salesforce, San Francisco at 1 PM. My laptop bag (the laptop inside) was in my hand and I felt asleep for a few seconds. A group of teenagers were getting down at Bay Fair station and one of them grabbed the laptop bag without me knowing. After few seconds when I woke up, I saw I dont have my bag in hand and I quickly found them walking in front of me just outside of the door. I straight away walked to them and snatched back my laptop bag from the guy. They gave a red eye to me but didn't dare to attack.

I have sent an email today asking the police officer whole filed the case with me asking for video footage of the incident. I hope they have been able to capture and identify some of those robbers. Similar incidents have been happening in this area for a while, the most notable one a year back when 40 to 60 teenagers robbed an entire BART train at Oakland. and a man stabbed at Hayward BART station just 3 months back.

Update: I got email response from the police officer. A detective has been assigned to my case who has reviewed the video footage and is working on identifying the suspects.

5 comments:

Shahriar75 said...

Horror story!

Paul said...

That's the only lesson you learned from this??? By struggling with the criminals, you put yourself, your son, and everyone else on that train in danger. What if they had guns and started shooting?...anyone could have been hit. All that risk to everyone for a laptop?? Give them the laptop/iphone/whatever...let the cops handle the rest...

Anonymous said...

I commuted from SHay BART to SF for almost 10 yrs: 1993-2003. Not so many electronics then. I always brought a book, paper, or magazine. Have never seen any of them stolen :) Did they leave fingerprints anywhere - probably compromised by now...? Paul is right - not worth a life/lives. all passengers should locate what used to be a phone with which to call the conductor - used to be located by the doors at the ends of each car. Once I dropped my wallet in a crowded car en-route to a stressful legal appt. Couldn't get free until 3pm. Went to bank and reported lost checks and credit cards. Don't know what possessed me, but I went to the BART office at a train stop in Oakland on my way home and said "I don't suppose........." The answer: is this it? WHEW!!

Sunnysfo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ashik Uzzaman said...

Paul, It's not a matter of just laptop or some money, its showing at least some level of resistance so that they dont under estimate the passengers in future. I figured there were other people in the train, so some of them will come forward to help. But its a weekend and most of the passengers were probably tourists, so they didn't come out until the robbers ran away. Also I thought if I dont give at least a little bit of trouble to them, they will take it easy and keep doing it more frequently. If everyone of us resist a little bit in every such incident (even if eventually give up as I did), they will also take longer gaps between such attempts. They will learn that people do resist once in a while and hence are not east prey. What can police do? What is the ratio of police vs the criminals? We can't have enough polices to guard each and every inches of our houses and public places. We ourselves need to help them and help each other to keep our neighborhood safe. Of course if they would show knife or gun, I would not resist at all. But here I saw that maximum I will get beaten but no fatal injury should happen considering its inside BART train and they still have to run out of the station while there are video surveillance cameras everywhere. They have to minimize their punishment / jail time also in the case they get caught. Its not bravery, its an instant reflex and its not accepting the fact that I won't show a minimum resistance to anything illegal and immoral.

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