Oakland, CA – Former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) was mugged while she was taking a walk in her Oakland neighborhood on Monday afternoon.
The incident occurred at about 1:15 p.m. on July 26 in the 300-block of 3rd Street in the Jack London Square neighborhood, KTVU reported.
Boxer, who retired from politics after serving 24 years in the U.S. Senate and 10 years in Congress, said she was taking a walk by herself and talking on her cell phone when she was robbed.
She said she noticed her would-be attackers about 30 seconds before they made their move, KTVU reported.
“I was walking around this neighborhood that I love so much,” Boxer explained.
She told KTVU that she noticed a black sedan double-parked and then a young man got out of it.
“I tried to cross the street and get away and he slammed me on the back and reached across me,” Boxer described the robbery. “He was behind me and grabbed my cell phone out of my hand.”
She said the suspect who mugged her and the driver of the getaway car both looked like teenagers, KTVU reported.
“I said how can you do this to a grandmother? I want to call my grandkids. Why are you doing this?” the retired politician recalled. “He could care less and got into the car and sped away.”
The 80-year-old Boxer said she was relieved she hadn’t fallen when she was pushed by the mugger, KTVU reported.
“My heart was pounding,” she said. “My hands were shaking. I was glad I was on my feet.”
Boxer said she felt lucky she wasn’t seriously hurt, KTVU reported.
Earlier today former Senator Barbara Boxer was assaulted in the Jack London Square neighborhood of Oakland. The assailant pushed her in the back, stole her cell phone and jumped in a waiting car. She is thankful that she was not seriously injured."
— Barbara Boxer (@BarbaraBoxer) July 26, 2021
Boxer walked to the Verizon store nearby and asked them for help, KTVU reported.
Verizon employee Joseph Heuken said he recognized the retired senator as a customer who had bought a phone from him a few days earlier.
In fact, Heuken sold Boxer the phone the robbers had taken, KTVU reported.
He said she was “scared and nervous” and he gave her a phone to call 911 and then waited with her for the police to arrive.
“I have to do what I have to do to help this lady,” Heuken said.
Law enforcement sources told KTVU that the getaway vehicle that robber fled in matched the description of a car that had been used in several vehicle break-ins in the 30 minutes prior to the attack on Boxer.
Police have also determined the license plate on the suspect vehicle belonged on a different car.
Community members were horrified by the broad-daylight attack on an elderly woman, KTVU reported.
“They’re so bold. I just can’t understand it,” neighbor Marsha Caldwell said. “It’d be nice if we had foot patrol police down here walking the area.”
The attack on the former senator came just a month after the Oakland City Council voted to cut $18 million from the police department’s budget, The Washington Post reported.
Boxer said she hopes the pair who mugged her would be caught so they couldn’t victimize anyone else, KTVU reported.
“Be very aware of your surroundings anywhere you are these days,” she warned. “It’s nerve-wracking but all is well. I feel bad because I love this town.”
Oakland police were investigating the robbery, KTVU reported.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was “deeply troubled” by the attack on the retired senator, The Washington Post reported.
“She spoke with the Senator’s family to extend her well wishes for a speedy recovery and was relieved to learn she was not seriously injured,” a spokesman for Schaaf told KGO. “[The Oakland Police Department] is investigating the incident and is working to collect any surveillance images from the area that will assist in their investigation.”
A $2,000 reward was being offered for information leading to the arrest of the suspects who mugged Boxer, KTVU reported.