Car used for smash-and-grab at Apple store in Berkeley


A car smashed through the glass façade of the Apple store at 1823 Fourth St. in Berkeley. Photo: Mickey Novello

UPDATE, May 19: The Apple store on Berkeley’s Fourth Street re-opened for business today, 10 days after the smash-and-grab robbery where suspects drove a car through its front window.

ORIGINAL STORY: A car was driven through the glass façade of the Apple store on Berkeley’s Fourth Street in the early hours of Friday morning.

The incident appears to be a deliberate smash-and-grab case as several items were stolen from the store, according to the Berkeley police.

The car, which went right through the front of the store at 1823 Fourth St., damaged both the front doors and the roll-up metal security gate, leaving a trail of broken glass.

Photo: Mickey Novella

There have been incidents of vehicular smash-and-grabs at Apple stores around the world. Photo: Mickey Novello

BPD received a report of an alarm from the Apple store at approximately 2:52 a.m., according to BPD spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. Once on scene, officers found an empty car, surrounded by debris. 

“There were signs of prowl inside the business,” Coats said. “Officers conducted a check of the business and did not find any suspects. The subsequent investigation revealed several Apple products were stolen. Based on the information at this point, it appears the suspect deliberately drove the vehicle into the store in order to burglarize the business. The investigation is ongoing.”

According to Apple Insider, which was the first to report the news, vehicular smash-and-grabs have become increasingly common at Apple stores around the world. The all-things-Apple-store site says that such incidents are happening because of the high resale value of the products at Apple, and because of the company’s “unwillingness to mar the stores’ aesthetic with hefty security features.”

Apple stores in Berlin, Germany, Chicago, and Temecula, California have experienced similar incidents, according to Apple Insider.


The car that was used for a smash-and-grab robbery was removed from the Berkeley Apple store Friday. The front of the store had been covered in black drapes. Photo: Don Melandry

The Berkeley store, which opened with much fanfare in August 2011, usually opens its doors at 10 a.m. on weekdays, but it is closed until further notice. Call the store at 510-898-3341 for information. The next nearest Apple store for Berkeleyans is the one at 5656 Bay St. in Emeryville.

The video below purports to show a smash-and-grab raid using a car in the Apple store at Temecula, CA. (Editor’s suggestion: mute the music):

This story was updated as more information became available.

Teen tries to buy 14 iPhones, 2 laptops with fake credit card at Berkeley Apple store (03.18.14)
Berkeley a jobs magnet: restaurants and Apple have impact (03.05.13)
Hundreds gather for Berkeley’s Apple store opening (08.20.11)
Accident at Berkeley Apple store red tags two businesses (02.22.11)

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.

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  • Bill N

    I’d be surprised if they didn’t have video footage of the culprit(s).

  • guest

    Yup. Berkeley’s proximity to Oakland makes it a great place for smash-and-grab robberies.

  • Jason

    The act was obviously deliberate. No one driving down 4th street accidentally turns 90 degrees, drives over the curb, and smashes perfectly through the front doors.

  • guest

    Which feature would be more useful in this case, a kill switch for stolen i-things, or the kill switch for stolen cars? (See Mark Lenos’ SB962 which would deter cell phone thefts by allowing owners to
    remotely render their device inoperable if it is lost or stolen)

  • Guest

    This looks like what is known in Australia as a “ram raid”. They are very popular there – ATMs are a frequent target. There should be some revealing video footage somewhere.

  • djoelt1

    Looks like a self driving google car…

  • Mrdrew3782

    I am trying to comprehend how the car made such a sharp turn and kept enough momentum to break through the metal gates. I guess the gates bended upward as the car pushed underneath it. Really gutsy robbery though. Reminds me of the robbery at the Walnut Creek Tiffany’s not too long ago. Hopefully they had security cameras.

  • Jafo

    I guess they fled on foot or in another car. Maybe that car was stolen or ‘stolen.’ Crime will be on the rise until the so-called kill switch comes into fruition.

  • y_p_w

    I’m pretty sure they can ensure that the stolen items will never work properly after they do a proper inventory.

    That lost iPhone 4 prototype in 2010 was bricked within a day, but only after they’d figured out where it was.

  • y_p_w

    Union Square in San Francisco is a huge target for smash and grab. The woman who did a smash and grab at M-A-C cosmetics lived in Berkeley.

  • Looking forward to when this bad apple activates the “Find My Perp” photo stream.


  • William M Popper

    not as smart as your guitar…

  • Mrdrew3782

    I guess the video answers that question. The car didn’t need that much speed at all.

  • guest
  • Allabt News

    Steve Jobs would be so proud

  • mason

    What is strange is that the car in the photo is not the same car in the video. Can someone explain this?

  • Hi

    Those metal gates don’t work well at all at keeping cars out, maybe they’re designed to keep people in…

  • guest

    It seems odd that Apple doesn’t install bollards along the curb in front of their stores to prevent this kind of thing.

  • Mbfarrel

    For all the times I disagree you, Carol Denny, you have a good sense of humor.

    Something that is too often missing in our Civic debate.

  • Mbfarrel

    Right, because they’re wearing hoodies.

  • Biker 94703

    The video is from the Temecula store.

  • BillStewart2012

    Almost certainly it was stolen; otherwise it’d be too easy to catch the perps. The interesting part is that a stolen car was worth less than stolen Apple merchandise.

  • guest

    Or maybe it coincides with the expiration of the 20 day no alcohol sales order for M & H Liquor in …. Berkeley.

  • the Deer

    I would say that late at night on 4th street one can point the car at the target across the street and just vroom, pedal to the metal, go crashing through, no problem. They wouldn’t have to make a sharp turn at all. Says the one who is good at driving. : ) (not robbery or get aways or anything like that!)

  • y_p_w

    That’s just an example of a similar robbery.

    However, at night with few cars parked I’d think they would just line it up perpendicular to the street, slam on the gas, jump the curb, and then bash through the front window.

  • y_p_w

    I’d think with the costs going down, most are high-def these days. It’s not as if many are still using VHS EP any more for security recordings. Quite a few are stored redundantly to multiple locations and even via Wi-Fi or cellular.

  • That’s pretty amazing glass – the doors are deformed … and still in one piece. The heck with Google Glass … I want Apple Glass!


  • andrew johnson

    Ira brings the funny.

  • Joaquin

    A true Apple aficionado – hates windows.

  • We’re all overlooking the culpability of the building in this. Why wasn’t it wearing a helmet and high-visibility reflective gear? The anti-car agenda of this site is so blatant.

  • aenar

    Anytime those devices show up online the thieves or buyers are toast. UDID for the idiots out there.

  • Cakeface

    Apple only got popular because back in the late 90’s all of the yuppie baby-boomers and gen-x computer illiterate people were worried about getting “viruses.”

    ….Easier to use, “prettier,” and with a higher price tag is not the equivalent of better, or more powerful.. And If this WERE the 90’s still, that would really just make it like the AOL of computers….


  • Sounds like Apple needs to install bollards in front of stores with street access.

  • Brescott

    Just got the call looks like I’m going to Berkeley in the morning to measure for new glass and doors