The past month has seen an uptick in robberies in Berkeley, with reports as of Dec. 24 at their highest level since August, according to the most recent data available from the Berkeley Police Department.
There have been 32 robberies in Berkeley over the most recent 30-day period available, from Nov. 25 through Dec. 24; numbers typically have hovered in the low 20s over similar recent time periods. (See the chart below for more detail.)
Last week, there were seven robberies over a five-day period. And it wasn’t the only time in December that this happened. Police say it’s much too soon to know whether the increase indicates a statistically significant jump, but offered to provide more context in January.
On Dec. 19, a 21-year-old man was walking in the 2100 block of Ashby Avenue, near Shattuck Avenue, at about 9:20 p.m. when two people knocked him to the ground and stole his bag and laptop, according to the Berkeley Police Department. The robbers were described as black males, 6 feet tall with medium builds, in their late teens wearing dark clothing.
On Dec. 20, a 33-year-old woman was walking at about 1:40 p.m. near Russell and Harper streets when a thief brandishing a knife robbed her of her cell phone. He was described as a black male adult in his late teens, 5 foot 10 to 6 feet tall, wearing all dark clothing.
Later that day, at about 4:50 p.m., a man went into a business in the 2000 block of San Pablo Avenue, near University Avenue, and stole some merchandise. He pushed a clerk to the ground on his way out of the store; officers who responded arrested him.
On Dec. 21, four people entered a business in the 1300 block of San Pablo, near Gilman Street, and stole several items. They pushed an employee to the ground as they left; responding officers took them into custody. (No additional information was available.)
Two robberies took place last Saturday, Dec. 22. Just after midnight, a 24-year-old woman was walking on Dwight Way, near Ellsworth Street, when a thief approached her from behind and robbed her of her purse while threatening to have a gun. The thief fled east on Dwight in a white four-door sedan. He was described as a black male, 20-30 years old with a medium build, dark complexion and short hair. He was wearing dark-colored clothing.
Just before 9 p.m., a 20-year-old man was walking at Hearst and San Pablo avenues when two men with a gun approached him, and robbed him of his wallet and phone. Both robbers were described as black; one appeared to be 30-40 years old with a thin build, dark complexion and dark clothing. The other appeared to be 25-30 years old with a heavy build.
And Sunday, at about 7:20 p.m., a robber with a gun hit a business in the 2100 block of San Pablo Avenue, south of University; police declined to release additional information, as they are still working the case, said officer Stephanie Polizziani of the Berkeley Police Department, via email.
(Earlier this month, police said an interrupted burglary attempt, on Senior Avenue, will be reclassified as a robbery; it hasn’t been reflected in this current data analysis.)
Capt. Erik Upson of the Berkeley Police Department said Friday said that there could be two intersecting trends at play, though he cautioned that police would have to do a more in-depth analysis after the holidays to determine if the increase is significant.
There could be a slight rise in robberies because of the holiday season, he said.
Perhaps more of a factor, however, may be the proliferation of “high-tech phone targeting,” said Upson.
“They see that phone, and it’s ready cash, essentially, because they can turn it in for money,” he said. “People just need to be conscious of that in terms of how they use them, and pay attention to their surroundings.”
Upson said, overall, he wasn’t aware of a significant annual increase in robberies throughout the city, but offered to provide more data in early 2013.
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