The thieves follow them, hit them or push them to the ground, then make off with their cell phones. The phones are often in use and unlocked when they are stolen, giving thieves access to data and financial info, per the Daily Mail.
The teens have been attacking mothers and nannies pushing strollers, stealing their cell phones. One woman who was the victim of an attack said that she was "shoved to the ground aggressively." She was pushing an empty stroller when she was attacked while en route to retrieve her daugther from daycare.
"This is not just a 'phone snatch' situation. This is a targeted, violent attack against moms and caretakers," she said. Another woman was punched in the head, still another was followed from a cafe by a young man.
The group is suspected of 11 thefts over just one week at the end of June, said captain of the San Francisco Police Department's Mission District station Thomas Harvey.
So far, only one suspect has been arrested. Police say they are still looking for additinoal suspects. Robberies are up in the city by the bay by nearly 12 percent. Due to the age of the arrested suspect, a minor, no further information has been released.
That these new attacks are specifically carried out against women, and upper-class women and their helpers at that, has Catherine Stefani of the Board of Supervisors concerned.
"I am incredibly alarmed by this and think it highlights the need for increased police presence in the area, especially given what is happening in Noe Valley," Stefani said in a statement to the San Fransisco Chronicle. "Ensuring the security and well-being of residents, particularly women, is top priority for me and I have asked SFPD to step up patrols in the area."
San Francisco Board of Supervisors member Rafael Mandelman said the gang of teens were likley assaulting mothers and stealing their phones due to the pandemic and the effect that had on schools.
"What happened with kids not being in school, I think there may be something going on with that that we’re going to be experiencing for a while," he said. "Those couple of years where school was erratic or non-existent, where everyone was under stress, parents and caregivers were under stress. That was probably impacting vulnerable communities more anyway."Victims have accused the San Fransisco Police Department of having "zero interest" in solving the cases, with some resorting to trying to track down suspects themselves via phone-tracing apps.
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