Mystery signs warn of muggings in north Oakland neighborhood

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- In Oakland, people are taking crime-fighting into their own hands. There's an anonymous effort to shed light on muggings in the city, specifically in north Oakland. But the warnings signs popping up around the neighborhood aren't sitting well with some residents. They believe they're doing more harm than good.

"Warning." "Be Alert." Those words are on sign after sign in this Oakland neighborhood, cautioning neighbors of muggings in the area and saying Oakland Police can't protect you. At the bottom, the number to Mayor Libby Schaff's office for more information.

"It was one here, one on the next pole, there is still some over there, but like most of the ones I've seen I took them down already," says north Oakland resident Charles Jones. "It's not a good message."

Jones says there have been some incidents but overall his neighborhood isn't dangerous. These signs though he says, could be.

"When you put up a sign like this and you've got someone who don't know the neighborhood, don't know the residence, don't know the history, don't know the culture and they are a victim of a crime or they are afraid of being a victim of a crime, they might want to arm their self they might want to try to protect their self. And we don't need a bunch of scary and inexperienced untrained people running around here with arms. You know to mean?" Jones said.

The Oakland Police Department issued a statement saying it:
"...shares the neighborhood and community concern regarding an increase in street robberies. Protecting and serving our community is paramount, trust is key in our relationships and continued trust building. The Department will be attending a community meeting this evening to listen, share information and provide efforts of awareness, education and enforcement the Department has taken and will continue to take. We encourage your media station to attend."

OPD said the AREA Captain and team has taken action including:

- Increased patrols, security checks and report reviews near and in the neighborhood
- Coordinated with NSC's for outreach and awareness tips
- Have had a special meeting with neighbors on 47th Street
- Continue to investigate open cases and are pursuing possible leads
- Revisit each scene to follow-up and re-canvas for video
- Conduct covert surveillance to intervene and apprehend with our crime reduction teams and community resource officers
- Crime Stoppers of Oakland reward money is available in certain cases, which would lead to an arrest of the suspect in the case.

Other neighbors worry what an increased police presence could mean.

"People who they usually identify as the suspects are people just like the young people of color," says resident Guatemala Sittee.

Jones believes the signs are a reflection of tension between the neighborhoods longtime residents and newer ones. And these signs make it worse.

"Try to organize a meet and greet," Jones says. "Be colloquial courteous with your neighbors. Talk to people, you know what I'm saying? Say hi when you walk by. Don't instantly assume the worst of people and don't instantly assume that there's always crime being committed by somebody because people of color happened to be congregating in one area."

Also posted in the neighborhood are signs inviting neighbors to an urgent public safety meeting for residents at Sacred Heart Church. OPD and this area's councilmember are expected to be there.
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