Ex-BART police chief says Oakland train takeover was difficult to prevent

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- No arrests have been made in the weekend takeover of a BART train in Oakland by a swarm of young people.

A former BART police chief tells ABC7 News that preventing it would be difficult with BART's current police staffing levels.

It was a takeover similar to recent robberies where a swarm of thieves suddenly appear at a store and grab whatever they can and disappear.

RELATED: Police work to ID teens involved in Oakland BART robbery

It happened Saturday night at the Coliseum BART station. Dozens of young people terrorized riders on a BART car, snatching bags and cellphones, even beating some passengers into submission. They then vanished into the night.

There was a meeting Tuesday of the BART Transit Security Advisory Committee. Chairman Janet Abelson, who's also mayor of El Cerrito, said, "I consider it a safe system to ride."

That's the message Abelson is trying to get across -- it's an isolated incident.

BART police declined to comment, but former BART Chief Gary Gee told ABC7 News that putting more cops on trains would be difficult.

"When you consider BART runs 50 to 60 trains at any given time, to have a police officer on every train and every station, that'd be prohibitive to do that. That's 100 officers right there," Gee said.
That's out of a police force of just over 200.

The big question was whether it was planned or spontaneous. "To what extent did they have someone on the train, on the platform before the mass group of suspects converged on the platform and train," Gee said.

BART says it's going through surveillance video and working with the Oakland police, housing authority and school district to catch these young thieves.

In the meantime, Gee says they should also post a reward.

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