Crime spikes, and you are there: NBC TV crew robbed in Oakland, Fox crew chases off carjackers

How bad has crime become in major American cities? Bad enough that media camera crews now randomly witness it — or experience it first-hand. An NBC Sports team got robbed at gunpoint this weekend in Oakland, less than a fortnight after a photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle got robbed across the bay. And that’s not all so far this month:

An NBC Sports crew working on assignment in Oakland, California was robbed at gunpoint Saturday morning, according to a report from The Mercury News, and the robbers got away with a camera from the crew’s vehicle.

No one was injured during the robbery, the newspaper noted, citing an Oakland Police Department spokesperson.

This robbery is reportedly the third involving news organizations in Oakland within two and a half weeks’ time.

On Dec. 3, a San Francisco Chronicle photographer was held up in an armed robbery and before that a security guard for local news station KRON-TV was killed by gunshot during an attempted robbery, according to The Mercury News.

Three news orgs in two weeks got robbed — one of whom died covering the flash-mob retail theft rings. And that’s just in one metropolitan area. The impunity of these criminals has clearly grown. It’s possible that the thieves didn’t know that the SF Chronicle photographer had a connection to a news outlet, but the other two incidents targeted people who record live events. They didn’t seem particularly concerned about facing any consequences, however.

Nor is this just a problem for the SF/Oakland area. In Minneapolis’ tony first-ring suburb of St. Louis Park, a news crew sent out to cover armed robberies ended up witnessing an attempted carjacking. This time the news crew managed to chase off the criminals, but not before the victim got pistol-whipped as the cameras rolled:

Photojournalist Vanshay Murdock was working on a story with Mary McGuire at the Lunds & Byerlys along Park Center Boulevard in St. Louis Park, covering a robbery that had occurred on Monday. In that incident, a 73-year-old woman was attacked and robbed of her purse in the Lunds & Byerlys parking lot.

On Thursday, as our crews were shooting video at the store at about 3:15 p.m., they witnessed three young men attempt to violently carjack a man in a Mercedes SUV. In a video from our photographer’s GoPro, a suspect appears to have entered through the backseat and is seen swinging at the victim behind the driver’s wheel with an object that looked like a gun or possibly a power drill. Our photographer yells and honks his horn and the suspects eventually run away. …

In a news release on Thursday, hours after the Lunds & Byerlys incident, police said the same group is suspected of being involved in a third incident at Bridgewater Bank on Excelsior Boulevard.

In that incident, police responded around 8 p.m. on November 29 for the report of an attempted carjacking at the bank. Officers say it appears the suspect followed the man from the bank into the parking lot, implied he had a gun, and demanded the victim’s keys as he approached his vehicle.

St. Louis Park borders on Minneapolis, but it’s much more like nearby Edina — wealthier, more stable, and up until recently relatively safe. The crime wave touched off by the riots and the attempts to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department have created lots of incentives for violent criminals and much fewer disincentives. As crime expands, people are beginning to grasp that problem.

“Criminals are continuing to do this because there’s no consequences,” one woman tells the Fox affiliate. In part, that’s because media outlets have largely avoided shining a spotlight on the decay that the nation’s crime wave has created. Now that they can’t get out of the path of it, perhaps they will start reporting on it with less narrative journalism and more straightforward reporting on the corrosion to public safety it creates.