Berkeley woman grabbed in attempted kidnapping

A Berkeley woman was grabbed in an apparent kidnapping attempt in the 1200 block of San Pablo Avenue, between Harrison and Gilman. Image: Google Maps

A Berkeley woman was grabbed in an apparent kidnapping attempt on Friday March 7 in the 1200 block of San Pablo Avenue, between Harrison and Gilman streets. Image: Google Maps

The Berkeley Police are asking for the community’s help in finding a suspect in an attempted kidnapping.

On Friday, March 7, at about 10:20 p.m. a 23-year-old Berkeley woman was walking home along San Pablo Avenue from Solano Avenue in Albany, according to a statement released by police around 6 p.m. Monday.

The woman became aware of a man who appeared to be following her. Despite changing her route several times, the man continued to walk behind her.

When the woman pulled out her cell phone to call for help, the suspect grabbed her and forced her off the sidewalk and down a driveway in the 1200 block of San Pablo Avenue.

The woman clutched her purse and screamed for help. The man grabbed her around her waist and spoke to her in Spanish. Police did not report what he said. A passing motorist saw the woman in distress, stopped, and honked the car horn. The suspect released the woman and fled north on San Pablo. 

The man is described as Hispanic, 23-25 years old and 5 feet 5 to 5 feet 7 inches tall with a thin build and thin facial hair. He was wearing a white and red San Francisco 49ers baseball-style cap, black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and black and red tennis shoes.

Police ask anyone who may have had an encounter with this man — or who has any additional information — to call Berkeley Police Department Sex Crimes Detective Melissa Kelly at 510-981-5735.  Callers who wish to remain anonymous can reach Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

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  • Guest

    Good for the motorist!

    Good wishes to the victim.

    Was this a kidnapping or attempted sexual assault? Was he kidnapping her on foot?

  • Chris J

    I can’t imagine this was a kidnapping, more of a simple sexual assault–which is enough to get angry about I its own,

  • Ahh

    Kudos to the motorist and the woman. Sounds like she’s got some street smarts, and used them. 1200 block – I assume she was high-tailing it for the McDonald’s, because otherwise there’s nothing there that’s open at night.

  • guest

    A person walking south from Solano on San Pablo passes storefronts which do not have windows which look out onto the sidewalk because the businesses have blocked out their windows. There are also many empty storefronts. In order to have a safe street for walking, you should have clear visibility out onto the sidewalk from the businesses you pass. Albany could make San Pablo more pedestrian friendly. A well designed street has business with large windows who can see what is happening outside. Such things can be controlled by business district zoning, just as Albany controls sandwich board signs, and sidewalk cafe tables. I think the only store open there at that time is LaneSplitter pizza, and even its windows hide too much of the sidewalk.

  • Don’t Judge

    Being that we weren’t there we can’t really make too much of a judgement about what actually happened. Perhaps the attacker said something to the victim, or perhaps the police know more details about the incident then they mention publicly. I’ve seen both sides of police investigations, and police sometimes have good reason to not disclose certain details about a crime, especially right after it happened.

    When the BPD says “attempted kidnapping”, they might have good reason to have done so.

  • djoelt1

    And force businesses to stay open 24/7 so there are eyes to look out on the street.

    This was at 10:20 pm.

  • David D.

    Mickey D’s is not open at that time of night. Only Happy Donuts and the AM PM, both of which are in Albany.

  • notnot2

    Security cameras could solve some of these problems.

  • Shutter

    Lets keep this in perspective here.
    The victim did the right thing and the motorist did the right thing.
    Only the bad guy did the wrong thing.

  • berkeleyborn123

    At least the concealed weapons permit requirements are changing in California which will allow women to better defend themselves from being raped by sexual predators, abused by ex’s who don’t follow restraining orders. This is an improvement over relying on the luck of having a responsive motorist or citizen there at just the right time, and empowers women over aggressors in these kinds of attacks…

  • batardo

    Or maybe just relying on a technical definition of ‘kidnapping’, since he forcibly moved her from point A to point B.

  • Iceland_1622

    I have broken up attacks on both men and multiple women here in North Berkeley,
    and let me get this out and get it over with promptly. Avoid San Pablo Ave.
    It’s a crime corridor for both Richmond and Oakland. One good whistle goes a
    very long way in making such matters a public one vs. a private encounter.
    It’s the last thing predators expect and just never walk alone at night like
    that here in the city.

    Now for the very very difficult part. I grew up with guns as well as fishing,
    swimming, boats, and skiing + skating in another part of the world. Having said
    all of that, I truly wish I had the .45 magnum semi-automatic three weeks ago,
    when I stopped for gas later at night in a serious ghetto section of a bay area
    city that will remain unnamed at this time. I thought being well lit, empty and
    deserted, along with 24/7 security video, that it would deter what was about to
    occur. Nope! Two cars pulled up and all were young black juveniles, with the
    males being gang apparent members. Out came the semi-automatic when I turned my
    back and this animal emptied the entire clip as all of the young women hit the
    ground and I took cover behind their car but kept eyes on the shooter. If I had
    the proper weapon I would have taken a bead on the shooter and just waited as
    you legally are held to a very *different* standard defensively in such matters.
    As I personally work this all out across time with wisdom and patience I *will*
    be purchasing a home defense shotgun and practicing and I am a full bug on
    safety. One woman I know bought a legal cross bow to keep in her bedroom when
    she took out a restraining order against her demented ex boyfriend. It’s a
    horrible way to live, however as with all things, there are “right ways” to do
    this and about 700 wrong ones. Just following the current disturbing trial
    of Oscar Pistorius in S. Africa as a wild point of reference on the complexity of domestic violence, power, money and celebrity.

  • guest

    How would putting even more bullets in the air have helped in this situation?

  • guest

    Yesterday: Concealed-carry instructor charged in accidental shooting: http://bit.ly/1nLXBnB

  • Local

    In most cities other than Berkeley, 10:20pm is a perfectly reasonable time for a restaurant or a bar to be open. For some reason, we have absurd restrictions on how late such establishments can stay open; lifting them would make a lot of Berkeley neighborhoods much safer to walk in after dark.

  • notagunowner

    Drawing a bead and waiting is not the same thing as “putting even more bullets in the air.” It’s positioning yourself to shoot in self-defense, or in defense of others, in case the alternative is getting shot, or letting someone else get shot. Nothing about the above post suggests a trigger-happy attitude.

    Personally, I don’t like guns, and am not comfortable around them. Therefore, I choose not to own one. That doesn’t mean I think they have no legitimate role in self-defense, or that every person who owns one for that reason is living out some kind of Wild West fantasy.

  • larry

    Cameras, sure. Cameras on every street corner. With night vision. Facial recognition. Microphones. Cameras everywhere! So we can all feel safer. Geez.

  • larry

    That McD location is open till midnight.

  • barry

    Or you could just move away from this area and avoid altogether. Why live within reach of the cross-fire, where you feel you have to arm yourself in defense of living your day-to-day? You said it, “I have broken up attacks on both men and multiple women here in North Berkeley.”