Robbers ‘run down’ Willard student on bike, take her backpack

A Willard student was robbed as she cycled home from school Friday. Image: Google Maps

At least two people in a sedan robbed an eighth-grader of her backpack in South Berkeley as she rode her bike home from Willard Middle School on Friday, her mother told Berkeleyside.

The girl was “run down” by the robbers, who took the girl’s backpack, said Tabitha O’Melay. It mostly contained school supplies and homework, as well as an iPod, EpiPens and other items. The bike was totaled, O’Melay said.

“They hit her and robbed her, left her in the street, having scored nothing of real value but totally destroying her sense of safety,” she wrote on Twitter.

Other cyclists called police, “and neighbors came out and helped,” O’Melay told Berkeleyside. “She has lots of bruises and cuts but is otherwise OK.”


Berkeley Police Lt. Dave Lindenau said the robbery was reported just before 5:10 p.m. at Russell and Wheeler streets. That’s about a half-mile from Willard. He confirmed much of the woman’s account of the robbery, though the report was not complete when he spoke to Berkeleyside and he did not know all the details.

Lindenau said the victim was likely “younger than normal,” as robberies go in Berkeley, other than reports BPD has gotten in the past of middle school students taking items from each other.

Lindenau said he hasn’t heard any other reports of people driving around town looking for young people to target.

“There’s no series,” he said late Friday.

Descriptions of the robbers were not available because the report was not done, he said.

Lindenau said a passenger got out of the vehicle to rob the girl, so there were at least two people in the car, including the driver.

O’Melay told Berkeleyside she posted online because she thought the community should know what happened.


“This is horrible,” she said. “And I want my kids to feel like they can ride their bikes to school.”

She has also created an Amazon registry to help replace the totaled bike and school supplies.