In a rush of adrenaline, Mr. Fang said he grabbed the man’s arm to pull him out. The two struggled, he said, before the stranger grabbed Mr. Fang’s phone and fled to an apparent getaway car, where another man was waiting behind the wheel. Mr. Fang said he followed the car on foot as it began to roll, latching onto the door handle before making his way inside the vehicle and demanding that the men tell him. return his phone. They did, Mr Fang said – and then he rushed to Jackson and Laguna’s corner to find his children.
But they and the van were gone.
Mr. Fang called the police and his wife. He also called his friend Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, a reporter for the public radio station KQED.
Mr. Fang and Mr. Fitzgerald Rodriguez have known each other for almost a decade; they met as college students and bonded through a shared love for “Star Trek”. Mr. Fitzgerald Rodriguez was at the Oakland home of his fiancee, Anna Kaminski, when he answered Mr. Fang’s call.
“He almost apologized on the phone, like, ‘I’m sorry to ask, but my car just got stolen with two of my kids in the backseat,” Fitzgerald Rodriguez said. “I immediately passed by. in news mode. “
Mr. Fitzgerald Rodriguez, 34, felt he had enough social media followers to be of some use. So he published a description of Mr. Fang’s van, a silver Honda Odyssey, and contacted other news outlets to get the word out.
Then he and Ms. Kaminski, 30, crossed the Bay Bridge to find Mr. Fang. She drove and he plugged in a police scanner using an app on her phone.
“We were sort of tied to the police scanner,” Ms. Kaminski said. “I wasn’t quite sure what all the codes meant, just listening to any mention of the Honda Odyssey.”