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Concern is growing in the cycling community in Berkeley, California after multiple bikejackings in recent weeks.
At least five riders have been confronted since late March, with each theft sharing a similar methodology. The victims are typically approached when riding alone, forced off the road by at least one vehicle, and then have their bicycle stolen at gunpoint or knifepoint.
Most of the thefts have taken place on Grizzly Peak Boulevard, above the college town of Berkeley in the East Bay area, around 10 miles (16 km) east of San Francisco.
According to the Berkeleyside newspaper, the spate of thefts began on the evening of March 23 when a cyclist on nearby Wildcat Canyon Road was “run off the road … by two men in a grey VW or Toyota sedan. He surrendered his bike when threatened with a knife,” according to a community member.
Days later, two cyclists in the space of 30 minutes had their bikes stolen at gunpoint on Grizzly Peak Boulevard, with another attempted theft in the same period.
CBS reports that on April 10, a mountain biker on Grizzly Peak had his Transition dual suspension bike stolen by two armed robbers who fled the scene in a black or grey Volkswagen or Volvo.
The string of thefts has rattled the local riding community. CyclingTips has heard from a number of local riders, and understands that the thefts are a regular theme of discussion among members from riding groups including Cal Triathlon, the Grizzly Peak Cyclists club, and the Berkeley Bicycle Club. Some have gone as far as issuing advice that the Grizzly Peak area should be avoided altogether, or only ridden in groups.
“We are concerned. So with yesterday’s ride, we had a little prep talk to talk about what we can do to be safe,” Grizzly Peak Cyclists Club President Mary Ann Jawili told CBS San Francisco.
The thefts come in the midst of a broader string of armed robberies in Berkeley, although details of the bike thefts are hard to pin down as the East Bay Hills area falls into several different police jurisdictions.