Woman fakes seizure to avoid mugging on California train; suspect’s photo released

Posted at 8:49 PM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-18 20:49:34-04

SAN FRANCISCO – The note threatened death if she didn't hand over her belongings, but a BART train passenger in California did something her would-be mugger apparently wasn't ready for – she pretended to have a seizure.

Now, police are looking for a suspect in the case, described as a woman in her 30s with "strawberry blond" hair who was last seen pulling a black cart with wheels.

Oakland resident Julie Dragland told the San Francisco Chronicle the train was passing through San Francisco to the East Bay Saturday afternoon when someone behind her passed her a slip of paper. Dragland, 32, took a photo of the red ink message, which read, "There are 2 guns pointed at you now. If you want to live hand back your wallet + phone NOW + do not turn around and be discreet. Do not turn around until after you have left Civic Center + you will live."

"When I read the note, I started freaking out," she told the paper Sunday. "I did not want to give up my stuff but I had no idea who was behind me."

When an attempt to mouth the word "help" didn't work, Dragland decided to get creative and slumped to the side, "shaking and crying" to get the attention of the other passengers. After people started crowding around to check on her, she thinks the suspect got off at the next stop.

BART spent $1.42 million earlier this year to install working surveillance equipment after The Chronicle reported that 77 percent of cameras on the trains were decoys.