‘Biggest tire slashing’ incident in South Berkeley today

A group of South Berkeley residents change the slashed tires on their car which was parked on California Street. Photos: Tracey Taylor

Update, 09.01.11, 8:55pm: As of 8:45 p.m. today, the City of Berkeley Police Department has made no arrests for the vandalism of tires in South Berkeley. The investigation is continuing and officers are pursuing some potentially viable leads. The total documented count of vehicles that had tires damaged is now 74 (61 in  Berkeley, 13 in Oakland).


South Berkeley residents in the area of California, Russell, King and Julia Streets woke up today to a rude shock, as more than 50 cars in the neighborhood had had their tires slashed in the early hours of the morning.

“This is the biggest tire slashing incident any of us can remember,” said Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt Mary Kusmiss, who added that even 25-year police veterans had never seen anything like it.

The area in which tires were slashed

The damage was done with a sharp implement — probably a knife or some type of blade, said Kusmiss, although people have been known to use ice picks too in similar cases.

At around 9:45am today, Diego and Gabriel Gutierrez, who live on California Street, were attempting repairs on three of their cars which were parked in front of their home this morning. They were dealing with a total of seven flat tires in all.

“It must have happened between 4 and 6 am,” said Gabriel, estimating that it might have been after 3am when he was awake, and before the garbage trucks came through the area on its weekly round at around 6am.

Diego Gutierrez, who lives on California Street, had three cars affected by the tire slashing spree, a total of seven flat tires

Diego Gutierrez added that he was contacting his insurance company, but that he didn’t know whether his policy covered vandalism.

Other residents were also changing tires — although many had been obliged to find other means of transport this morning to get to work or take kids to school. The rampage is understood to have extended into Oakland streets too.

Three police cars were on the scene of the crime this morning at 9:30am documenting the extent of the damage and looking for clues

Sgt Kusmiss said the police took a call at around 7:00am this morning reporting the tire slashing. Several police patrol cars were on the scene at around 9:30am documenting the damage.

“We will explore all potential leads,” Sgt Kusmiss said. “At this point we have no idea what the motive is. This is a crime that can happen very quickly under the veil of darkness.”

One of more than 50 cars that had its tires slashed in the early hours of Wednesday August 31 on California Street

Hat-tip: Citizen reporter Sofia Zander.

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  • The most frustrating part is that certain people spend so much time trying to stymie her efforts, for no apparent reason.

  • Sharkey,

    That particular rabbit hole is deep, dark, and dirty. I’ve seen Mayor Bates put up with nut-jobs screaming at the council to support the tree-sitters back in 2008, yet when we had a large group in front of the council to address real crime problems, Mayor Bates had Laura removed from the council meeting although she was far less disruptive than the tree-sitting crowd that regularly took over council chambers that year.

    But I guess a woman in a bright yellow dress holding a skeleton with no spine & screaming at the council is amusing for our beloved Mayor, but when he’s confronted by people that want to talk about serious quality of life issues, he tucks his tail & has people removed from council chambers.

    Yeah…the rabbit hole is a deep, dark, & dirty and some people in this city are considered “more equal” than others.

  • lauramenard

    Wow, friends thanks for the kind words.

  • lauramenard

    Martini, more than half your posts are just criticism of me personally.

  • jjohannson

    “If Big Brother technology can be used to issue tickets & collect revenue for the city, then it’s a no-brainer to use a different version of that technology for crime suppression, particularly when residents in crime hot spots ask for the technology to be deployed.”
    That observation looms over this entire discussion.  The deployment and viability of the technology seem not to be at issue for the Council.

  • Martini

    I do, as is indicated in my comment. Perhaps that’s just not clear since so much context is lost in posts. I also state that you probably do know what you’re talking about. Thanks for proving my point on the abrasiveness, though.

  • Bruce Love

    West Bezerkeley, you know my name as you evidence.    My point is that you’re playing pretty fast and loose with people’s privacy with your camera advocacy.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of this but one example of “what can possibly go wrong” comes from all the photo sharing people do these days.   People put up pictures.  Often the pictures have tags or labels that indicate who is in the pictures.   The big firms are now mining this data to create massive facial recognition databases.   It’s yet another example of how the stampede to surveillance cameras will inexorably lead to world in which it is impossible to be anonymous in public.

    Yet, public anonymity is something you apparently value.

  • Martini

    Yes, I think I posted to you 3 times before? Very rarely though, especially compared to so many others who reply to you who also add insults, and taking into consideration how often you post. Take the advice, be less abrasive. Or not so reactive and defensive. Or ignore me entirely, I don’t really care. It’s Berkeleyside.

  • California St Resident

    Thank you for your comment, Eric. The sidewalk in question is actually in front of a foreclosed home, with the former owner squatting (and other difficult issues). I’d like to think it’s not representative of our neighborhood, but as the Julia Street resident below (hi neighbor!) notes, we work hard to do our best, but weeds do grow.  

  • California St Resident

    Thank you for your comment, Eric. The sidewalk in question is actually in front of a foreclosed home, with the former owner squatting (and other difficult issues). I’d like to think it’s not representative of our neighborhood, but as the Julia Street resident below (hi neighbor!) notes, we work hard to do our best, but weeds do grow.  

  • lauramenard

    Heather, may I suggest that it is dangerous to irritate political bullies, just as it is dangerous to irritate cyber-bullies such as TL/BL , who seemed to adopted new cyber pseudo-identities  yet again.

  • chris

    Its not too much for EVERY family there. It may be too expensive for most, but certainly not all.

    My point was not, these cameras will solve the problem. Rather, if you want surveillance cameras then quit complaining and put up your own cameras.

    5 families could get together and chip in $100 a piece and purchase an entire system.

  • chris

    Laura – I live in West Berkeley – near 10th and Allston. Last year there was gun violence on my corner, and a knife murder 1 block away. The summer before there was a gun murder on my corner, and the year before that I had to fight a group of Richmond drug dealers off my block – through problem solving meetings, working with BPD, and putting my own personal safety on the line.

    Please keep your assumptions to yourself. They only serve to cloud the discussion.

  • chris

    WB – I heartily agree.

  • chris

    Oh gheez. Laura can you also tell me my waist size and favorite food?

  • chris

    FYI – that murder occurred 2 houses from me.

  • lauramenard

    Sorry Chris, I probably did mistake your first email as written by someone not as informed about the nature of street crime Yesterday was a particularly stressful day for me, and hearing the suggestion once again that we should spend more money for public safety  irritated me, in addition to the fact that the cop haters types were already jumping on me. We can’t afford health insurance and unemployment runs out in few months, and my disabled bro is in crisis that is taking me down.

    As to the home cameras usefulness , having experienced retaliation personally  we did put some surveillance in place, but it did not deter the vandalism of house or car.  There was a time when I to demand my teenage son not hang out in the lving room out of fear of retaliation.

    I hope you are interested in the information I shared about BPD visiting OPD to see how  the Fruitvale surveillance system operates. Several officers and a Lt. from the  BPD Area Coordinators office saw first hand why such a system is ESPECIALLY effective in neighborhoods such as yours and mine. There is quite a big difference between police use of technology in targeting hot spots and home surveillance which did not even help me when my garden was poisoned.

    Again, I did not intend to offend you. sorry. 

  • If citizens have to bear the burden and cost of preventing criminal activity, what are we paying the Police for?

  • Bruce/Tom/Dick/Jane/Jack/Jill, whatever you want to call yourself…

    Debating the finer points of an individual right to privacy vs. the legitimate need to prosecute criminal behavior that tears society apart isn’t a discussion that belongs in a comments section.

    If you want to be productive here, why don’t you suggest that Berkeleyside moderate a panel discussion on the topic as it relates to our local crime problem? Persons wanting to be panelists would indicate their interest to Berkeleyside and would present a verifiable CV to prove they have a grasp of the topic beyond having a knee-jerk emotional reaction to anything that is considered “Orwellian.”

    I’ve no axe to grind with you or anyone else that comments on Berkeleyside, but I do find your pleasure in playing the Devil’s Advocate on every local issue without ever providing facts to back up your views to be unproductive.

    In contrast, I’ve provided professional information on video surveillance technology and I’ve pointed out that the city is already using this technology. I know my view isn’t popular, but at least I’ve provided some educational material for the readers. Why can’t you do the same instead of constantly hen-pecking everyone?

    I acknowledge that your concern about companies such as Facebook using facial recognition software is valid…sort of. Here’s the thing, Facebook provides the public with a free service, but they expect something back from the people that use it (and rightly so). How far they can go in taking back from Facebook account holders is a matter of debate & one that I won’t entertain here. Suffice to say that from my point of view Facebook (and other types of social media) is a marketing dream for corporate America, for social revolutions, and for governments that want to learn to control human behavior via social media propaganda tools (links below)



    Although I believe the US Government should implement something similar to the EU Privacy Directive, since the idiots (ahem – representatives) in Washington D.C. can’t act in the interest of the nation as a whole (as evidenced by the debt ceiling cluster****), it’s not likely those troglodytes have sufficient higher reasoning to take on a task such as national privacy rights.

    I also acknowledge that facial recognition technology is used by parts of the government, but it doesn’t tend to be used by itself because mapping out features on the face isn’t as easy as Hollywood leads you to believe. Despite the fact that facial recognition technology is being used by US forces in Afghanistan, but it is bolstered by fingerprint and iris scans.


    The reason they use 3 types of biometric technologies is that using biometric facial recognition by itself to ID a person can generate false positives. There’s a lot of technical stuff that I won’t get into here, suffice it to say that if you are the US military or are in law enforcement here in the USA, arresting someone because of a false positive leaves the bad guys roaming free, consumes finite manpower, and wastes resources by detaining innocent guys rather than incarcerating the bad guys.

    Bruce/Tom/Dick/Jane/Jack/Jill…I know more than the average guy on the street about some of this stuff and I can intelligently discuss the merits of using this technology & in the situations it should or should not be used.

    My plea to you may be ignored, but here it is: Please, don’t continue to bring the discussion down to the lowest common denominator. It does a disservice to the readers of Berkeleyside and it distorts the facts.

    With that said, I’ll take my leave from the comments section of this article and more on to more pressing matters.

  • Since we are 2 blocks apart, if you ever want to connect over a beer or coffee, let me know. I’m not active in neighborhood watch any more, but am always interested in knowing my neighbors. Also from the sound of things, after we made it abundantly clear that the crack dealers weren’t welcome on our block, we noticed that they moved to the area around 10th & Allston.

    FYI, we are starting to see crack baggies in our drive way again, but we are better organized than before, so if that is a leading indicator of a flare-up in drug dealing on my block, I can guarantee that the neighborhood response will be fast & unrelenting.

  • Bruce Love

    Here is a fun article about what cheap surveillance equipment and off the shelf software can currently do — not really taking into account the more recent face recognition breakthroughs.

    “How Facial Recognition Technology Can Be Used To Get Your Social Security Number”

    Researchers at Carnegie Mellon explain by demonstrating it in action.


    I understand that some  opinions about so called best practices would include a more extensive use of cameras.    All I was trying to point out, that seems to have so upset you, is that that camera solution easily creates a new social problem — the complete loss of public anonymity and location privacy.    There seems to be an increasingly sharp security vs. liberty trade-off around this technology.    You yourself seem to value public anonymity to some degree so, please, be careful what you ask for in crime prevention strategies.

  • The UK has more cameras than any other country in the world, they do a good job, in recent riots they have assisted the police in identifying hundreds of offenders and bringing them to justice. They harm nobody but the guilty.

  • The UK has more cameras than any other country in the world, they do a good job, in recent riots they have assisted the police in identifying hundreds of offenders and bringing them to justice. They harm nobody but the guilty.

  • The UK has more cameras than any other country in the world, they do a good job, in recent riots they have assisted the police in identifying hundreds of offenders and bringing them to justice. They harm nobody but the guilty.

  • Your article is a bit of hogwash.
    The main way they discover people’s Social Security numbers is because sometimes “social security numbers are predictable if you know a person’s hometown and date of birth.” The real tool they’re using is the person’s name, hometown, and date of birth. The use of facial recognition has little to do with it, and the article doesn’t even mention the accuracy of their attempts at generating social security numbers (natural assumption – the accuracy was low).

    If you’re really so concerned with public anonymity, wear a mask. You have no right to privacy on public streets.

  • Bruce Love

    Sharkey has misunderstood the article a bit.Given
    only a picture of a student taken by a cheap web camera, and using only
    off the shelf face recognition software, the researchers were able to
    discover the name, city of birth, and date of birth of a surprisingly
    large number of students.   Then, because of vulnerabilities in how
    social security numbers are assigned, they were able to add some
    flourish by getting many of the social security numbers right.The researchers are demonstrating:a) that the state of off the shelf facial recognition software is pretty good (and the stuff in the latest research is much better).
    b)  that tagged photos on the net, such as on Facebook,
    make a good database against which to search for matches.   For
    example, bad actors no longer need to search only against, say,
    mug-shot databases — they can increasingly identify nearly anyone.c) that if someone took your picture with a cheap webcam and found you on (in
    this case) Facebook:  does that really count as “identifying” you? 
    Well, how about if they then tell you your social security number, just to drive the point home?  There
    are other ways, not discussed in that article (or the links to its
    sources) that ubiquitous surveillance cameras lead to a loss of public
    anonymity and location privacy:Did you use your car recently? 
    Your license plate is a good clue, easily read off by computers (think
    about what happens if you drive through a rapid-pass toll booth with a
    missing or malfunctioning transponder — your car is snapshotted, the
    license plate read by machine, and the transit authority will be in
    touch by mail).Did some part of a surveillance system get a
    good shot of your face a while ago but not since?    It doesn’t matter
    so long as the system saw you move around, even though it only had that
    one glimpse at your face (or your license, or your credit card
    transaction, or you leaving your home, or your cell phone signal, or
    your wifi signal, or  ….).   As long as the system can see that that
    video blob move around — it can keep track of you.None of this
    means that surveillance cameras should never be used.   It does mean
    that there is a legitimate threat about privacy concerns that has to be
    weighed against their use.

  • Charles_Siegel

    So, if you want privacy, don’t post your picture on facebook.  People post their pictures voluntarily, not because anyone forces them to, and they should be aware of the privacy issues involved.

    I guess  BL/TL is also against requiring cars to have license plates, because that is another violation of the right to privacy.

  • Bruce Love

    Charles, not posting your picture on Facebook might be a good idea.  Unfortunately, that alone won’t help much.   Your picture can wind up there anyway.   And pictures connected to identifying information show up in other places as well.   It’s not something over which most people have a great deal of control anymore.

    And, no, I’m not against license plates — I’m against over-eager use of surveillance cameras.

  • Classy_lass38

    Look at a local tire store/repair shop. In an incident that occurred several years back in Pacheco it was led back to a tire repair store who was on a commision only basis. Generally the owners of said businesses do not know there employee’s are doing this so it really is not there responsability but it is something to look into.

  • Charles_Siegel

    “It’s not something over which most people have a great deal of control anymore.”

    You are exaggerating.  It is very unlikely likely that your picture will get on Facebook or that an identified picture will get anywhere else on the internet without your knowledge and consent.

    If you are concerned about privacy, you should be arguing for giving people more control over what information about them appears on the internet (including pictures with their name)  Many European countries have “right to be forgotten laws,” which are a reasonable response to loss of privacy in the internet age.  I have tried without success to get inaccurate information about me off the internet.

    But the right to privacy obviously does not include a right not to have your photo taken when you are in a public place. 

  • Then, because of vulnerabilities in how social security numbers are
    assigned, they were able to add some flourish by getting many of the
    social security numbers right.

    I’m sorry if I offend the sensibilities of any readers, but this is alarmist bullshit of the worst sort.

    The article does not say that in any way, and suggesting that it does is a bald-faced lie. The article simply says that they tried to guess the social security numbers of the participants in their online survey. It does not indicate in any way how successful they were, other than to indicate that their success rate was rather low. Saying that they got “many” of the SS numbers correct is an outright lie.

  • Bruce Love

    Sharkey, I’m not interested in continuing in a back and forth where you use gratuitously inflamatoy and insulting language especially to make statements which are false.   You put me in an awkward spot when you engage that way, only to say things that can dangerously mislead the public.   To wrap this up, please:

    Carnegie Mellon University – one of the leading computing and information science research institutions in the world and one of the historic leaders in computer security research disagrees with you.   The Forbes article is writing, for a popular audience, what the press release from CMU, and their interview with the researcher says.   The press release begins:

    “Researchers Demonstrate Ability To Predict Social Security Numbers from People’s Faces”Here is some of what the researcher himself says about this topic on his web pages:

    We investigated the feasibility of combining publicly available Web 2.0
    data with off-the-shelf face recognition software for the purpose of
    large-scale, automated individual re-identification
    . Two experiments
    demonstrated the ability of identifying strangers online (on a dating site where individuals protect their identities by using pseudonyms)
    and offline (in a public space), based on photos made publicly
    available on a social network site. A third proof-of-concept experiment
    illustrated the ability of inferring strangers’ personal or sensitive
    information (their interests and Social Security numbers) from their
    faces, by combining face recognition, data mining algorithms, and
    statistical re-identification techniques.
    The results highlight the implications of the inevitable convergence of face recognition
    technology and increasing online self-disclosures, and the emergence of
    “personally predictable” information. They raise questions about the
    future of privacy in an “augmented” reality world in which online and
    offline data will seamlessly blend.

  • None of what you quote here or what is said in the article you originally linked to backs up what you said, which is that they got “many” of the Social Security numbers correct.

    You are lying and exaggerating to make a point, and then accusing others of using falsehoods to try and distract people from what you’re doing.

  • The researchers were surprised by the large number of students they were able to so easily identify. They reproduced earlier research about
    trivially linking identities to social security numbers. The main
    limit to how many social security numbers they could trivially get was
    the number of foreign student subjects of the experiment — who don’t
    have social security numbers. So: “many”.

    Again, more deception.

    adjective, more, most, noun, pronoun
    1.) constituting or forming a large number; numerous: many people.
    2.) noting each one of a large number (usually followed by a  or an ): For many a day it rained.

    The researchers were able to identify only 42% of the students they used in the experiment. From there, they do not state how many of the Social Security numbers they were able to guess for that 42% of participants.

    What they do say is that they were “surprised” that there were “problem[s]” and that they “tried” to guess Social Security numbers. There is NO information in any of the material you have linked to that they correctly got the correct Social Security numbers of “many” of the 42% of study participants that they were able to identify using face recognition software, let alone that they got the correct Social Security numbers for “many” of the study participants as a whole.

  • chris

    Thanks for your kind and thoughtful words Laura. Apology accepted, and happy we can all move forward. Cheers!

    I do think BPD needs to do more, and I can say that since Meehan has arrived I’ve seen more targeted efforts in our neighborhood that has resulted in a quieter summer. But the use of technology by BPD is a great way to do this!

  • chris

    Sounds god WB! How can I contact you privately?

  • Anonymous

    A tip and hint: Years ago this was occurring on the BART trains when the new seats were all being slashed over and over again.  When they used proper surveillance across time and ‘caught’ the perpetrator in action, he was working for the very same company that “repaired” such seats in Oakland, under contract to BART.  This happened on our street in N. Berkeley several years ago. Maybe business at a certain tire store is slow during the great recession and this perspective should not be fully ruled out.  

  • lauramenard

    Not a tire store prank to build business.

  • JBParrothead

    It’s pretty easy to figure who is behind this.  Anchor babies gone wild!

  • Anonymous

    BERKELEY, Calif.—A 33-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of slashing tires on 74 vehicles in Berkeley and Oakland in one day.Mandisa Monroe of Berkeley was taken into custody on Tuesday. Berkeley police say surveillance video shows Monroe puncturing tires on one of the cars during the Aug. 31 vandalism spree.

  • Hi Chris,

    I’ve been away. I’ve created a temp email address for you to reach me so we can meet up some time. It’s junkbox2000-chris-at-yahoo-dot-com — since there are some odd folks on here, email me and we’ll set up a time to meet at the park on 10th or over at Local 123. From there we can exchange info.

    I’ll permanently delete this email address after 7 days.

  • Hi Chris,

    I’ve been away. I’ve created a temp email address for you to reach me so we can meet up some time. It’s junkbox2000-chris-at-yahoo-dot-com — since there are some odd folks on here, email me and we’ll set up a time to meet at the park on 10th or over at Local 123. From there we can exchange info.

    I’ll permanently delete this email address after 7 days.