Quick “wilding” attacks by teens on bicycles have been an ongoing problem for passers-by in the city.
Two Yale University students were attacked Monday at around 6 p.m. in the area around Wall Street, said police spokesman Officer David Hartman.
Wilding is a slang term for a type of attack that is typically performed by youths between the ages of 14 and 18.
The students weren’t robbed, but were struck several times, Police said.
“Usually these attacks are connected with robberies, but not always,” Hartman said.
The attacks sometimes follow a pattern, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have involved the same perpetrators, Hartman said. Some involve only one attacker while others can have a half-dozen or more.
Wilding became a growing trend earlier this year in Fair Haven and parts of the city that have large undocumented immigrant populations. Undocumented workers who don’t have bank accounts can be seen as ideal targets for robbers because they may carry large amounts of cash.
One common type of wilding involves robbers quickly grabbing phones from pedestrians’ hands. The type of attack became so prevalent that it became known as “apple-picking,” in reference to the Apple iPhone, a popular target for thieves, Hartman said.
This isn’t the first time the city has come up against the problem of bicycle gangs. Summer 2005 was particularly bad in terms of bicycle wilding attacks. Groups of 60 or more youths would attack people while riding around the Dwight neighborhood. The outbreak resulted in a large crackdown by police.