Residents fight off burglar during home invasion attempt

Photo: Rory Merry

Police arrested a man on Dec. 24 after he tried to break into an occupied home in the Elmwood, authorities said. Photo: Rory Merry

A San Pablo man arrested just before Christmas, after authorities said he tried to break into a Berkeley home while residents were inside, has been scheduled for a pre-trial hearing later this month.

According to police, residents in a home in the 2900 block of Hillegass Avenue fought off a man who tried to break into their home on Dec. 24 just before 7:15 a.m.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said the burglar first tried to get into the home by breaking a window in the front door, then trying to get through the door.

“The victim was able to barricade the door,” Coats said via email. “The victims were able to keep the suspect from gaining access to their home by striking the suspect several times, causing him injuries.”

The man sustained injuries to his head during the incident.

Image: Google Maps

Image: Google Maps

Police responded to the home, on Hillegass just north of Ashby Avenue, and detained the man, who was identified as Mohammed Safi Safieddine, 46, of San Pablo.

He was arrested on suspicion of burglary. (Read more about Berkeley burglaries here.)

Safieddine is no longer in custody and appears to have posted a $25,000 bond to secure his release.

He is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Jan. 22 at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse, Department 115, in downtown Oakland.

Berkeleyside provides exclusive coverage of many Berkeley crimes. Local photographer Rory Merry shared the image above with Berkeleyside. See more of Rory’s work at

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Berkeley men arrested, linked to pills, 26 pounds of pot (12.20.13)
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  • guest

    Happy New Year!

  • DisGuested

    N.B.—The date in the photo caption is in the future.

  • Completely_Serious

    Wow, Jan. 2 and we already have the best picture of the year! Go BPD!

  • Thanks for catching that

  • djoelt1

    $25,000 bond for release? What?
    Is this mandated by law for the charge? If not, $500,000 seems like a better number there.

  • disqus_S1ql48Vi9i

    great pic!!

  • andrew johnson

    Safieddine is lucky the only resistance he encountered was physical battery. There are plenty of homeowners with firearms in the area who will defend their lives and their property.

  • genkipanda

    GO RESIDENTS!!! Best news I have heard so far this year :)

  • Jon Krueger

    Great idea except a home with a gun is more likely to shoot someone in the home than to be used in self defense.

  • Mark

    A duly registered handgun or rifle would have saved the taxpayers the cost of a trial and the cost of incarceration.

  • tfitz

    That is a ridiculous bail for breaking into an ‘occupied dwelling’! He was not charged properly and walked for $2500 cash to pay for the bond. If he is then charged properly he’ll never show and probably assault someone. This isn’t just a thief.

  • andrew johnson

    Homes don’t shoot guns, people do. And my comment was not meant to solicit feedback on whether it’s a “great idea” or not, but was simply a statement of fact – many Berkeley residents are armed, and will use firearms to defend themselves.

  • guest

    That is only true if you include suicides.

  • andrew johnson

    Handguns and rifles do not need to be “registered” in California. Rather, there is a background check when someone tries to purchase a firearm, and a dealer record of sale when handguns – and as of yesterday, long guns, too – are purchased through a dealer. And to your point, do not be so certain that murdering the hot prowler, would not also lead to a taxpayer-funded court case.

  • Guest

    Here we go again. The link you provide is an attempt to refute a famous study, but it doesn’t support your statement. Even leaving out suicide, the numbers support Jon’s statement.

  • Woolsey

    Wonder what his intent was – doubtful it was just robbery if he was willing to fight the inhabitants to get into the house. Well, since he didn’t steal anything he’ll plead to an infraction of disturbing the peace assuming the Alameda Co DA can be bothered to take the case.

  • i blame society

    Yes, a “hoodie” who is not wearing a shirt is obviously criminal. This is some of that “clear thinking” Berkeleyside’s crime coverage is said to encourage.

  • coffeetogo

    Why do I have a baaaaaaaaaad feeling Mister Moooooohammed Safi Safieddine of San Pablo will fail to show up for his hearing? and yes, $25,000 for bail is chump change, $300K is a nice round number.

  • guest

    Mister Moooooohammed

    Why are you exaggerating his name in a way that suggests bigotry?

  • sue tomasello

    Guns don’t kill people, bullets do. I ‘m very curious to know how many is “many Berkeley residents are armed”, and how many of those are legally armed do you think? You seem to know these things and I wonder how you know?

  • guest

    My understanding is that with that bond, he’ll only need to come up with $2,500 to be free. It’s too easy to get out on bond.

  • Iceland_1622

    After dialing 911 you might try using this in such events as it’s good to 30 feet. Just be sure to have it all on video in adddition as the first thing they will do now is to accuse you of assault [ they were collecting for the red cross right? ] and then you all go off to jail unless you have the instant replay. Even then, the perpetrator *always* has the advantage. In Oakland people teach one another to pull the body indoors in such matters and yes they are armed heavily there, which is why, partially, so many commute to Berkeley to do this time and time again. Easy pickings and a very young and oblivious transient student population.

    This was done to a business client of mine years ago here and he ran out with a shotgun into the street only to have them both laugh, taunt and mock him as he legally could not shoot as they fled and he knew it. Use the bear pepper and dial 911 first and then *stay* inside as many “peace officers” are, how to say this nicely, fast on the trigger.

  • guest

    It certainly points out that the statement that “a home with a gun is more likely to shoot someone in the home than to be used in self defense” is spin-doctored garbage based on a misleading and outdated study with highly questionable methodology.

  • Chris J

    No, he is a moron who home invaded an occupied home. That doofus will get picked up soon enough, I’m betting,

  • I’m jes’ sayin’

    These people managed to “defend their lives and their property” without firearms.

  • Steve Redmond

    Still deafening silence from Mayor Bates, Councilman Worthington, Chief of Police and the crew downtown. What will it take to get them focused on this plague? And we don’t want to hear the old platitudes but a comprehensive plan to reduce and eliminate crime from our neighborhoods. Imagine someone trying to enter an occupied home around 7 in the morning.!

  • Better safe than sorry.

    Better safe than sorry.

  • big o

    wow, crooks in sandals!

  • primafacie

    A few answers to your questions:

    1. Burglary is entering property with the intent to commit a crime, not necessarily but usually theft.

    2. Bail bondsmen often front such bail.

    3. Oh, so you already knew the answer to No. 2. It’s exceedingly rare for a bail bondsman, who expects to be repaid, to simply hand someone cash. They typically pay the appropriate authority.

    4., etc. If there is a trial, these details will likely be discussed.

  • guest

    Or to shoot themselves.

  • batard

    What’s “legally armed”, isn’t that the default?

  • earp

    True, but arguably at higher personal risk. If you are going to engage in deadly force, at least aim to win 100% of the time.

  • batard

    “murder” in the rhetorical sense I assume, maybe legally not so much. If it comes down to beating an intruder in the head to stop them from invading your house then I don’t think it matters if your application of deadly force comes from a stick or a kinetic projectile.

  • Just Wondering

    Hi Emilie:

    Although I doubt you will suffer the confusion expressed in this comment, let me clarify. I assume that the person who got arrested and had his bail set called from jail his wife, girl- or boyfriend, mother, grandmother, sibling, friend or somebody else who got the money together to get him out of jail on bail for the time being. Since he knew somebody who would pay this kind of money to get him out of jail, why did he not get them to give him the money without the crime part in the middle that completely wasted the money?


  • emraguso

    We already have put requests in for more information — we’ll get whatever is available. I agree with people who have noted that this whole incident seems out of the ordinary.

  • guest

    It would be interesting to hear BPD;s comments on the action these people took.

  • batard

    No kidding, what’s up with that.

    When Don Perata got carjacked at gunpoint it sure brought the topic home for the pols .. let’s hope for Bates sake it doesn’t take the same reminder. As an advocate pedestrian in South Berkeley he’s part of an at-risk demographic.

  • batardo

    Homes with guns are also more likely to shoot berserk intruders smashing through the front door.

  • sue tomasello

    I will never arm myself with a frickin’ gun. If that means I am at a higher risk well that’s life in the big city I guess. I’d sooner move to someplace like Canada, and I have NO intention of doing that, just trying to make my point that there are MANY people who choose not to shoot anyone under any circumstances.

  • batardo

    Article doesn’t mention what he was charged with initially, perhaps additional charges are likely. I think the bond amounts are somewhat prescriptive though, take a look at the docs here:

    I think it’s also true that 10% is the typical fee for a bail bondsman, maybe somebody with first-hand experience can explain ..

  • steve

    I don’t know what his original intent was, but he was screaming like a maniac the whole time. He had a minor cut on his head that I took to be from broken glass but the owner of the house may have hit him. He got distracted and appeared exhausted and lay down in the street as in the photo just before the police arrived. And thanks BPD for a quick response. A neighbor was talking to 911 and sirens could be heard before he was even finished. 6 or 7 police cars closed in all at once. BFD bagged the guy’s head (to quiet him down?) then strapped him to a gurney and took him away, presumably to the psych ward. I’m a little disturbed to read that this guy’s out on bail, as he seemed to be a total lunatic.

  • Just Wondering

    Hi Steve:

    Thank you for this report.

  • Moritz

    Bullets don’t kill people, ballistic trauma to vital soft tissue does.

  • John R. Buckley

    “The victims were able to keep the suspect from gaining access to their
    home by striking the suspect several times, causing him injuries.”

    He should sue the homeowner and win a large settlement. Then he can afford his OWN home.