Crime

Alleged Berkeley wedding ring robber arrested, charged

Over the past six months, there have been at least six reported robberies at Woolsey and Tremont streets in Berkeley, and six others in the immediate vicinity. Image: CrimeMapping.com

Over the past six months, there have been at least six reported robberies at Woolsey and Tremont streets in Berkeley, and six others in the immediate vicinity. Image: CrimeMapping.com

Authorities have charged an Oakland man — reported to have taken a wedding ring off a man’s finger while holding a gun on him during a robbery in South Berkeley in mid-January — with three felony counts, according to court records.

Damien Scipio, 21, has been charged with second-degree robbery and grand theft, two counts, by the Alameda County district attorney’s office. (He also was identified in court papers as Damienantonio Nickalai Scipio.) Berkeley Police picked up Scipio at his West Oakland home on a warrant Jan. 23, which stemmed from their investigation into a robbery near the Ashby BART station the prior week.

In that case, the victim told Berkeleyside he had been walking home into North Oakland when three men robbed him near Woolsey and Tremont streets in South Berkeley shortly after 8 p.m. on Jan. 14. One man, later identified as Scipio, held a gun on him, while the other men held his arms and took his property. After taking his phone and his bag, the men walked away and told him to walk in the other direction. But then the man with the gun came back and took the victim’s wedding ring off his finger, at the urging of his accomplices.

Authorities later recovered the victim’s phone in a crashed car in East Oakland.

According to court records, Scipio and two other men allegedly committed a robbery in Rockridge less than two hours after the Berkeley incident. The group then fled the scene in a vehicle, crashing less than a mile away. The trio ran from the area on foot.

According to court documents, Scipio and a friend then went into the Alameda Police Department and claimed to have been carjacked earlier in the night. The friend later recanted that story and told police Scipio had stolen the car from him.

A Berkeley Police report indicates that the Ashby BART-area victim identified Scipio from a photo line-up as the man with the gun.

The victim in the Berkeley incident previously reported the return of some of his property, including his backpack and iPhone, but his ring is still missing, he said this week.

Berkeley Police detectives arrested Scipio during a warrant search Jan. 23. At that time, police say they also found the stolen personal information of two separate victims in Scipio’s room, in a home in the 1700 block of 13th Street in West Oakland, as well as a laptop and card reader.

Police said that, after being informed of his Miranda right to remain silent, Scipio ”confessed to being with his friends when his friends did the robbery in Berkeley,” according to court documents.

He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $90,000. He has been charged with robbery, grand theft and manufacturing fake access cards, according to the Alameda County district attorney’s office.

Scipio is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Feb. 6 at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

Woman also arrested, charged with identity theft violations

During the police search of the West Oakland home, authorities said they also detained a woman, Ebony McDowell, in connection with the discovery of 12 fraudulent credit cards and several fake state identification cards they said belonged to her.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman officer Jennifer Coats said officers also found the materials needed to make those cards. McDowell has been charged, according to the district attorney’s office, with two felony counts of grand theft.

There is no evidence that McDowell participated in the original robbery in Berkeley, said Coats. McDowell is no longer in custody, and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Feb. 10.

Robbery reports have slowed near Ashby BART station

Since the Jan. 14 robbery at Tremont and Woolsey streets — listed here as the 2000 block of Woolsey — there has been just one additional robbery report in the area, which took place Jan. 28 at 2:30 a.m. at Dover and 63rd streets.

Over the past six months, there have been six robberies reported at Tremont and Woolsey, and six others within two blocks of that location, according to police data.

Coats said via email that there is no indication that Scipio is connected to the other robberies in the area. Detectives continue to follow up on leads related to those cases, she said.

The Berkeley Police Department has been running joint patrols with BART Police officers since early December, and has been sharing information with the Oakland Police Department to investigate a rash of armed robberies involving stolen cars that were concentrated within a few blocks of each other on the North Oakland-South Berkeley border near Ashby BART station.

Berkeleyside provides exclusive coverage of many of Berkeley’s most serious crimesRead more here.

Related:
South Berkeley robberies on the rise near Ashby BART (01.17.14)
Police join forces on Berkeley-Oakland robbery series (12.11.13)
Pregnant woman robbed at gunpoint in South Berkeley (12.10.13)
Berkeley man shot Sunday night at Ashby Flea Market (12.02.13)
4 Oakland teens arrested after Berkeley robbery attempt (11.07.13)

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our All the News grid.

Print Friendly
Tagged , , , , , , ,
  • http://www.caviarcommunism.com/ West Bezerkeley

    Too bad they can’t institute Singaporean justice on the wedding ring robber.

  • Simon

    This is great news! But the City of Berkeley still hasn’t done anything to help with the poor lighting in the area. More streetlights are needed asap! That corner of Tremont and Woolsey is particularly dark. More patrols are great, but a permanent improvement to the lighting situation is needed!

  • Woolsey

    What’s needed is more than a slap on the hand from the DA. Some of these robberies take place in the daytime when streetlights obviously won’t help. I think the police do a good job – it’s the rest of the system that doesn’t hold these folks accountable.

  • Doug F

    “According to court documents, Scipio and a friend then went into the
    Alameda Police Department and claimed to have been carjacked earlier in
    the night. The friend later recanted that story and told police Scipio
    had stolen the car from him.”

    It’s so convenient that hoods are so dumb–makes them so much easier to catch. Crashing their getaway car was a nice extra touch.

  • Guest

    At that time, police say they also found the stolen personal information
    of two separate victims in Scipio’s room, in a home in the 1700 block
    of 13th Street in West Oakland, as well as a laptop and card reader.

    So not only were they doing petty crime, but they were sophisticated enough to use a credit card reader and commit identity theft.

    Sounds less like a case of poor folks with few skills just trying to survive who “feel that this is their only option” and more like predatory thugs looking to score a quick buck.

    Too bad there are so many enablers in our community who want to make excuses for this kind of behavior.

  • Tony C.

    Jail those guys for a long time please. The longer the better. Thanks.