Police stressed that the street robberies were not concentrated in any one part of the city. But Deputy Police Commissioner John Skinner said several of the incidents resembled a recent pattern in the Roland Avenue corridor.
"We're very concerned as a city," Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere said.
Overall robberies are flat across the city this year, compared with the same time last year, but street robberies are up 6 percent, the latest crime statistics show. Shootings are also up 14 percent.
Despite hearing about the crime surge, Gilmore said he didn't think it would happen to him.
"I was talking to people in our neighborhood who had read about some of these incidents, and then to have one of them happen — it's scary," he said.
Gilmore, a library assistant, said he was running in the 400 block of Wyman Park Drive when he was assaulted. One of the assailants motioned as if he had a gun, and the robbers shoved or tripped him, knocking his glasses off and breaking his shoulder, he said.
The robbers fled with his cellphone and money clip in a four-door gray sedan, where two others had been waiting, he said.
Police said they began taking note of these street robberies on Aug. 2, when a group of men stole a vehicle in Waverly, then joined up with another group and cruised around north Baltimore, confronting at least four people and stealing cellphones from runners, according to police reports
A wave of street robberies over the last few weeks fit similar patterns of young adults or juveniles targeting distracted people and stealing their cellphones, wallets and other valuables and fleeing in cars, police said.
Some cases involved suspects flashing guns, making threats or assaulting or shooting victims, according to victims and police reports.
Police said they had no evidence showing that the robberies were run by an organized group, but they did say that the crimes were well-planned. Young adults or juveniles accosted victims, while accomplices waited in nearby cars. The groups appeared to be targeting "distracted" people, who were running, talking on cellphones or listening to music with headphones, Skinner said.
As for Drinkwater, a website was set up after the assault to help him financially and raised more than $1,700 by the end of the week. The benefit called "Help Zeb with bills and stuff" was set up on http://www.gofundme.com and had raised more than $1,700 by Friday, according to friends of Drinkwater.
Luke Broadwater and Kevin Rector of the Baltimore Sun Media Group contributed to this report.