OAKLAND, Jan 11, 2013 (The Oakland Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Thieves smashed a window of a KTVU news van parked in West Oakland for an assignment Thursday and stole roughly $20,000 worth of laptops and other electronic equipment, the latest in a long string of heists against reporters and photographers.
Police said the Channel 2 news crews were not in the van at the time. The station's van was parked in the 3300 block of Market Street shortly before noon Thursday to do a story on the unveiling and dedication of a mural, organized by the Attitudinal Healing Connection, police said.
At least two other thefts of camera and electronic equipment have happened in recent months when media have been covering mural projects organized by that nonprofit.
"It isunfortunate that crime continues to plague West Oakland. Our community is desperately in need of support and resources," said the group's associate director Amana Harris. "We believe it is critically important to continue to engage communities and most importantly our youth in making meaningful and uplifting connections using art, economic opportunity and creativity to solve our greatest problems."
Police are still investigating and have not said if any of the crimes are linked.
News photographers and reporters have been robbed and burglarized so many times since last spring that some stations are sending armed guards with media crews doing stories in Oakland. One man was arrested in November for a robbery of a
cameraman in front of Oakland Technical High School, but he got out of jail on bail and has not been seen since.
Oakland Tribune Chief Photographer Laura Oda has been robbed twice at gunpoint since July. In early July, she had just finished photographing an in-the-works mural, also organized by the Attitudinal Healing Connection, on San Pablo Avenue, between 35th and 36th streets, when a man with a gun grabbed two cameras off her shoulder, and another man swiped her camera bag and laptop from the back of the car. She was robbed again in October.
Last June, two photographers at the mural had two cameras and a tripod nabbed while they were setting up to photograph the painters.
In December, a KRON Channel 4 television reporter covering a town-hall meeting, where the key topic discussed was crime, returned to his news station's car and found $9,000 worth of equipment stolen, including a laptop computer and a camera belonging to the station.
The theft occurred about 8 p.m. in the 1200 block of Excelsior Avenue near Edna Brewer Middle School. After the meeting at the school, the reporter returned to his locked car, which has the station logo on it, to find a window broken and the equipment missing.
Thursday was at least the second time KTVU crews have been hit in recent month. In early July, a news crew doing a live shoot in the 5700 block of Redwood Road in the Oakland hills was robbed when the reporter was held up at gunpoint, police said.
In mid-May, an NBC television news reporter and cameraman were on San Pablo Avenue doing a story when a man ran up to the photographer from behind and swiped a TV camera and tripod and jumped in a car and left.
In November, police arrested Delaine Phillips, 19, of Oakland in connection with a robbery of a TV cameraman who had just finished a live shot with a reporter outside Oakland Technical High School. He was free on $100,000 bail and has previously failed to show up at a court appearance. Phillips is not in custody in Alameda County, according to the Santa Rita inmate locator.
Reach Kristin J. Bender at email@example.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender.
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