New armed robbery brings total to six in December

California Street at Virginia: scene of an armed robbery on December 6.

A robbery which took place on California Street at Virginia at around 7.20pm on Monday December 6, brings the total number of armed robberies in the city to six in almost as many days this month. There were at least as many in November.

The incident took place north of Ohlone Park which has seen a concentration of similar hold-ups over the past few weeks.

The victim, a 47-year-old man, was walking on California talking on his cell phone when he was approached by a man holding a gun. The victim complied when asked to give up his phone, wallet and backpack. He described the suspect as black, aged 20-30, with a medium build and about 5’6″. He was wearing a blue sweatshirt and jeans.

Sergeant Mary Kusmiss of the Berkeley Police Department said there is a nexus between some of the robberies that have taken place recently, although descriptions have varied, and not all the robberies are being viewed as part of a series. Four that took place between November 13 and 21 in Berkeley share patterns in terms of the modus operandi of the suspect, she said.


“At this time of the year there tends to be an increase in the number of robberies in Berkeley,” she said. Sgt. Kusmiss attributes this partly to the end of Daylight Saving Time, which means it is darker earlier in the day, as well as the increased number of people who are out and about on the streets, shopping or socializing.

“Criminals are often opportunistic,” she said. She added that they will use the same technique if it has proven to work before. Although there is not one profile which fits all the victims of recent robberies, they have often been alone, distracted and in a dark area, she said.

Sgt. Kusmiss said the police are devoting extra resources to patrolling on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in particular neighborhoods, and they are liaising with police departments in neighboring cities as part of their investigations.

Councilmember Linda Maio is holding a public meeting with the Berkeley Police on Thursday December 9 to discuss the recent crime wave. Many of the robberies have taken place in her north Berkeley district. The meeting, which starts at 7pm, is at the Lutheran Church of the Cross at 1744 University Avenue. Area 1 coordinator Officer Casimiro Pierantoni will attend from the police department, as will Lieutenant Andrew Greenwood.