We’re not giving up their names or other identifying details for obvious reasons but we were able to hook up with and debrief an Alamo couple who found themselves staring down the barrel of a shotgun and pistol during a recent robbery in Walnut Creek.
We sketched in broad terms an account of their experience at the hands of three thieves when we heard they’d been robbed June 24, but they wanted to make sure others were aware of the circumstances leading up to the brief but terrifying experience.
“It’s crazy, and we weren’t aware it was happening so often,” said Ericka, her name changed for this story. “I don’t watch a lot of television or news but we lived close enough to have heard about that incident where the women were followed home from the city and robbed outside their home. Then I read about the robbery in Lafayette last night…”
In the early evening of June 24 Ericka and her husband Tom had finished dinner at a restaurant in San Ramon and were making their way to Walnut Creek to pick up their daughter – attending a birthday party at a home on Blade Way.
Neither felt anything amiss, though Ericka said that in hindsight she believed her husband’s Two Tone Rolex Submariner had been made by someone who knew they were looking at a $25,000 – $30,000 timepiece.
“I can’t say who it was or when it was,” she said, “but looking back I think it was there, along with the fact that we were in a pretty nice car.”
She said it’s understood in tony Alamo and other enclaves in the 24/680 that people driving a nice car are almost always wearing an expensive watch, making them easy targets for thieves on the hunt.
“A lot of men wear a Rolex. My husband wore a Rolex. I wear a Rolex,” she said. “I think there are people out there who know what they are looking at and they’re willing to take what they want.”
Although her husband is situationally aware and generally on the lookout for anyone taking undue interest in them, neither Ericka or Tom felt they were being tailed as they drove north to Walnut Creek, stopping at the residence where their daughter played with more than a dozen other little girls in the backyard.
“I got out to go inside and that’s when Tom noticed the car, a Q40 missing its front grill, drive past very slowly, turn around and come back. The windows were heavily tinted but when I turned to look back I saw two men get out and surround Tom with a gun in his face.”
Two guns, one a possibly modified shotgun with a cut down barrel, Ericka said, admitting “I don’t know a lot about guns.”
There was a lot of shouting, she said, much of it crude and aimed at getting Tom’s hands up and at getting his watch and wallet, which he did surrender.
“I’m thinking they’re going to shoot my husband,” Ericka said. “I slipped my ring off and put it in my pocket. Then they saw me and the one with the shotgun pointed it at me from about 15 feet away. Tom saw that and started talking to get them to focus on him again, telling them they had his watch and wallet and to take it and go. And they did.”
The couple made it inside the party house and told the hosts they’d been robbed, hastily bringing the children inside in case the gunmen had second thoughts and returned. The police were called and were there quickly, Ericka praising them for their care and attention.
She was chastened to hear that no one in the neighborhood had security cameras, and that no images of the thieves would be possible. Officers promised they would find the gunmen and Tom and Ericka eventually returned home with their daughter.
“We were dumbfounded, still in shock,” Ericka said. “Of course now I would advise people to look out for people who take an undue interest in them, follow them, take the same freeway exit. But at the time we just weren’t expecting trouble.”