A man authorities say is responsible for a series of burglaries over the past year in Berkeley at four yoga studios, a capoeira gym and a restaurant has been charged with six felony commercial burglary counts by the Alameda County district attorney’s office.
According to court documents, Berkeley police say 20-year-old Christopher D. Newton stole unattended wallets, often while participants took classes.
Police said Newton would then use the pilfered credit cards to make purchases before victims knew to cancel the cards.
According to court papers, two burglaries took place in Berkeley in February: at 7th Heaven Yoga, 2820 Seventh St., and Sweet Basil Thai, 1736 Solano Ave. Four others took place in Berkeley in November: at Corepower Yoga, 811 University Ave.; Capoeira Arts Foundation, 1901 San Pablo Ave.; Yoga Tree, 2807 Telegraph Ave.; and Namaste Yoga (which previously had been called 7th Heaven).
Police said Newton “would sometimes pose as a prospective student often providing applications with false names on them to gain access to the studios.”
As part of the investigation, police used a phone number belonging to Newton which they said he’d used on one of those applications. Witnesses also identified him, via a photo line-up, as having been seen at at least one of the studios before the thefts.
Berkeley Police officer Scott Castle prepared a warrant for Newton’s arrest. Then, on Dec. 15, according to court papers, police arrested Newton as he was leaving another yoga studio, at 2800 Adeline St., just before 12:30 p.m.
According to a report completed by Castle, “Newton waived his Miranda Rights and admitted multiple burglaries.”
Newton remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail and is scheduled to enter a plea Jan. 9 at 9 a.m. at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland in Dept. 112. His bail has been set at $120,000.
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