Police use gift cards, surveillance to track robber

Berkeley Police logoA Hercules man has been arrested, after the robbery of a woman in West Berkeley in March, after police used surveillance footage and gift cards bought with stolen money to track him down, according to court papers.

March 5 at 9:35 p.m., three men with a gun approached a woman on her way home in the 1500 block of Eighth Street and took her bag, police said.

Berkeley Police officers investigated, and found surveillance footage taken 20 minutes after the robbery showing a teenage girl at Target buying eight Visa gift cards with a credit card stolen during the robbery. Surveillance images also show a gold sedan in the parking lot.

Police tracked the use of those gift cards, and got surveillance footage from at least four locations in Contra Costa County: Motel 6, Nations, Pinole Vista Liquor and Wendy’s.

Using that footage, police identified a gold Lexus linked to the girl and 19-year-old Damon Dixon of Hercules. According to court papers, those two had recently been stopped by police while driving the Lexus.


Surveillance footage collected by police during the investigation shows a man police believed was Dixon at Motel 6, where one of the gifts cards was used, authorities said. Through a records check of Dixon, police found contact information for the girl, and were able to use her DMV photograph to identify her in surveillance footage of the initial Target gift card buy.

On March 26, Berkeley Police officer Mike Parsons got a warrant for Dixon’s arrest for the West Berkeley robbery. He also learned Dixon was wanted in Vallejo, and had a warrant there in connection with several robberies in that city, according to court papers.

On March 27, San Pablo Police officers stopped the gold Lexus, with Dixon and the girl inside. They were detained and Dixon was questioned by police, according to court papers. No further information was available about the girl because of her status as a minor.

Parsons wrote that Dixon initially denied involvement in the West Berkeley robbery, but later told police he had been at the scene of the robbery with two others, and the juvenile girl. He also admitted to using one of the gift cards at Motel 6.

Dixon also confirmed some of the property taken from the victim, and told police that the gun used in the robbery was hidden in the Lexus, which had been towed by the San Pablo Police Department.

Vallejo Police obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and found the gun that had been described by Dixon.

Dixon has been charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with one count of second-degree robbery with a special allegation related to prison eligibility, and a clause related to the use of the gun during the robbery.

He is being held at Santa Rita Jail and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing April 10 at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

[Editor’s Note, April 6: Police said the Target Visa cards were bought with a credit card stolen during the West Berkeley robbery. This information has been added to the story for clarification.]

Related:
Robberies rise, but serious crime down overall in 2013 (03.14.14)
Alleged Berkeley wedding ring robber arrested, charged (02.05.14)
Teen arrested after cellphone robbery in Berkeley (01.31.14)
South Berkeley robberies on the rise near Ashby BART (01.17.14)
Judge says alleged Ashkenaz shooter must stand trial (12.13.13)
Teen arrested after robbery tied to medical cannabis buy (12.12.13)

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