Berkeley police: ‘Robbery crew’ targets college-aged pedestrians near Cal

BPD is investigating a robbery series near the UC Berkeley campus. Image: BPD

A “robbery crew” has been targeting college-aged pedestrians around the UC Berkeley campus over the past week, authorities report.

There have been five robberies, or robbery attempts, since Nov. 9, police said in a statement Thursday afternoon. Four of the incidents took place north of campus, and one took place in the Southside neighborhood near Telegraph Avenue.

“Based on the geographic proximity of the crime scenes, victim descriptions, suspect descriptions, and the suspects’ methods, Detectives believe these cases are related and is the work of a robbery crew,” police said in the statement.

In all five instances, the pedestrians were alone near UC Berkeley when they were robbed, police said. All five victims were male. Some of the incidents also involved physical attacks.


There were two incidents Thursday, Nov. 9: north of campus at Spruce and Virginia streets at 9:16 p.m., and south of campus, about 1.5 miles away, in the 2600 block of Regent Street at 10:05 p.m.

  • Spruce and Virginia: Two young men walked up to a pedestrian, “engaged him in conversation and then attacked him.” The robbers tried to take the victim’s backpack, “but he fought back,” police said. No getaway vehicle was seen. The robbers were described as two black males, 18-22 years old, 5 feet 10 to 5 feet 11, with thin builds.
  • Regent: Two people “grabbed” a male pedestrian walking alone: “Following a short conversation the suspects took the victim’s property.” No getaway vehicle was seen. The robbers were described as a black man, 18-22, 5 feet 11 to 6 feet 1 with a thin build, and a white or Hispanic man, 18-22, 5 feet 11 to 6 feet 6 with a thin build.

The next two incidents happened three days later, Sunday, Nov. 12. The first was at 7:25 p.m. in the 2400 block of Le Conte Avenue, and the next was just a block away at 8:37 p.m. at Hearst and Scenic avenues.

  • Le Conte: Two men tried to take a pedestrian’s phone and backpack: “He resisted and a fight ensued.” Police said the robbery “was interrupted by an approaching vehicle.” The suspects were described as two white men, 20-25 years old. One had a thin build and the other had a medium build.
  • Hearst and Scenic: “One suspect grabbed the victim and forcibly removed his backpack while the other threatened that he had a gun.” The two robbers were described as a Hispanic man, 25-30, with a heavy build and black hair, and an Asian man, 25-30, 6 feet tall with a medium build.

The most recent incident took place Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 6:35 p.m. at Spruce and Virginia streets.

  • Spruce and Virginia: The pedestrian was walking in the 1700 block of Spruce when two men approached. One threatened to have a gun, and the other tried to take his backpack. “The victim resisted and was battered by the suspects,” police said. Passers-by yelled at the men, who gave up before completing the robbery. The suspects were described as a Hispanic man, 18-25 and 5 feet 10, and a Hispanic or black man, 18-25, 5 feet 10 to 6 feet tall.

BPD asks anyone with information about the robberies to call the BPD Robbery Detail at 510-981-5742. For crimes in progress, call 911 or 510-981-5911 from a cellphone. BPD also provided several safety tips for pedestrians:

  • Pay attention to surroundings
  • Travel in groups when possible
  • Consider putting the cellphone in a pocket while in transit
  • Consider using one earphone if cellphone use is necessary
  • Try to travel in well-lit, highly-populated areas