An attack and attempted phone theft last week in broad daylight by the BART station was thwarted by a screaming victim and multiple passersby who came to the victim’s aid. While it ended well, it’s a reminder to always pay attention as you walk and not carry your phone where it’s visible.
The assault took place on Lyell street, between the freeway underpass and Cayuga Street, on Thursday, July 19 at about 6:00 pm.
A neighbor who saw the attack and reported it to police spoke to the Glen Park News but asked not to be named to protect her privacy.
“There were people around, it was broad daylight. There were lots of commuters,” she said. “You think you’re safe.”
She had walked out of the BART station and turned right, going down Bosworth and under the freeway underpass.
“There were probably 3 or 4 people in front of me and 3 or 4 people behind me” walking on the same street, she told the News.
As the woman walked along Lyell between Cayuga Ave. and Alemany Blvd., she was surprised to see two young men hiding behind a corner of a house, talking to each other. She guessed their ages at between 16 and 19.
She’d gotten about 50 feet further down the street when she heard screaming from behind her. The two young men were tussling with a young woman. At first she thought it was just teenagers roughhousing and joking around. But then she saw the expression on the young woman’s face and heard her yelling “Get off me! Get off me!”
The woman who spoke with the News and another passerby ran back to where the young woman was, and the neighbor in front of the house where the attack happened also came out.
“One of the guys came up from behind her and bear-hugged her,” the woman told the News. “They shuffled and struggled, trying to take her phone. She had it in her hand and she wouldn’t let it go.” In the struggle, the young men actually pushed the victim across the street.
“Eventually, with her screaming and all the people around, they let go and ran away,” she said.
The husband of the neighbor who had come out of her house at the commotion chased the young men down the street and saw them jump into a new Honda Civic with paper license plates.
The women called the police and stayed with the victim until they arrived.
“Luckily she was okay. She didn’t get hurt, she was just really shaken up. The police arrived promptly and interviewed all of us. They said they were going to look around the neighborhood for cameras to see if anyone got any footage of the young men. Two police cars plus an undercover car showed up. I was impressed with their responsiveness,” she said.
The young woman had been walking along wearing ear buds and holding her phone in her hand, as many people do walking home from BART.
“I don’t think she’d noticed them at all” before it happened, the woman who witnessed the attack said, admitting that she, too, had been walking down the same street looking at her phone.
“I could easily have been the victim. Luckily the young man was talking to his friend at the moment I walked by. But whatever we’re doing is probably not as important as paying attention.”
The assault is a reminder to stay safe. Some recommendations from law enforcement:
– Always be aware of your surroundings.
– Keep your cell phone in a pocket, purse or backpack.
– Don’t walk and text.
– If your phone is stolen, fill out a police report. Keep information about the model number, serial number and Unique device ID separately so you an include it in your report.
– Register your security camera.*
- Note that the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and the San Francisco Police Department have a program through which residents can register their security cameras, as part of a program to deter crime and promote public safety. If something happens, police can pinpoint who has a camera in that location. For more information, see their website here: https://sfdistrictattorney.org/Register-your-camera