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‘Crew’ of five teenage girls responsible for string of strong-arm robberies in Bay Area, police say

Five teenage girls suspected of committing or attempting at least 10 strong-arm robberies in the Bay Area over several days were arrested this week when they were stopped in a stolen vehicle, authorities say. 

The girls — between the ages of 14 and 16 — are accused of ambushing mostly female victims on the street and then stripping them of their valuables.

“Once they get going, they just roll,” said Piedmont police Det. Willie Wright. “The common theory is they just don’t have a way to make money and they’re going to rob to get it.”

Police say the girls did not use weapons. Instead, one or two of the teens would jump out and surprise their victim and then squeeze them in a bear hug. While the victim was restrained, the other attackers snatched the victim’s purse and other belongings, police say. The group would then run off to a waiting vehicle. 

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The robberies reportedly occurred between Oct. 25 and Monday, when the girls were pulled over in Piedmont in a white Nissan that had been reported stolen. 

According to investigators, the stolen Nissan, as well as security camera footage, linked the teens to a string of 10 robberies and attempted robberies.

“This is a unique instance,” said Oakland police Officer Marco Marquez. “What you have that makes it unique is five female suspects, ages 14 to 16, that’s committing strong-arm robberies. It’s also that their victims — they’re specific with females. We don’t see that often. These five are working as a crew.”

Most of the victims were women who were walking alone, police said, and ranged in age from 29 to 70. At least one of them was punched in the face, Wright said. Other victims fell to the ground trying to hold on to their belongings, he said.

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Oakland police took custody of the girls after they were pulled over because a majority of the robberies occurred in that city, police said. The girls’ identities were not released because they are minors.

Joseph.serna@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

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