Tag Archives: Berkeley robberies

Berkeley police defend tactics after laundromat robbery

Police search Sacramento Street, near Dwight Way, for an armed robber who robbed a laundromat, in Berkeley, on Monday, July 27. Photo: David Yee
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One week after a police operation in southwest Berkeley sparked community questions about whether military tools and tactics have been unnecessarily adopted by local departments, the Berkeley Police chief and one of his captains said safety was the overriding concern that drove decision making last Monday.

Threats to officer safety are very real. Police Chief Michael Meehan and Acting Capt. Jennifer Louis answered questions from Berkeleyside on Monday, Aug. 3, less than 24 hours after an officer-involving shooting in Oakland left a local man dead and a police sergeant in serious condition. According to a statement released by the Oakland Police, the man opened fire on officers with an assault rifle after they responded to his home during a sexual assault investigation. And, less than two weeks ago, Hayward Police Sgt. Scott Lunger was fatally shot without warning during a traffic stop.

Meehan said today, however, that it was the specifics of last week’s robbery and assault at a laundromat — “the facts of the individual case…. and the nature of the threat” — that prompted the use July 27 of a police dog from Oakland, an armored vehicle from Alameda and the Berkeley Police Special Response Team, which wears camouflage uniforms when it responds to calls.

Those decisions incited an emotional response from some in the Berkeley community and beyond who said the tactics are evidence of the increasing militarization of local police departments. Many said they were put off by the camouflage uniforms and armored vehicle, in particular. In the Berkeleyside comments, one person called the operation a sign of a “police state” and another decried the “unprecedented show of military force.” Others said police had made the right decisions, acting professionally and efficiently. But even some who made a point to say they support certain police tactics had questions. … Continue reading »

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Robber with ‘silver teeth’ evades Berkeley police

Police search Sacramento Street, near Dwight Way, for an armed robber who robbed a laundromat, in Berkeley, on Monday, July 27, 2015. Photo: David Yee
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Update, 2:10 p.m. Berkeley police have left the area around Sacramento Street after the search for an armed robber who struck a laundromat Monday morning turned up empty.

According to a 2:02 p.m. Nixle alert sent over email, “The roadways are now open and Berkeley Police are clearing the area. We would like to thank the community for the patience and understanding while we conducted the search.”

The robbery report came in at about 8:30 a.m. from the Wash and Shop laundromat, at 2450 Sacramento St., according to local residents. The robber reportedly used a gun and took cash from the business.

Police said they “arrived on scene and quickly established a perimeter. Members of our Special Response Team were utilized to conduct the search with the assistance of an Oakland Police Department K-9. The suspect was not located and the investigation into this matter continues.”  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police respond to bank robbery downtown

Berkeley police cruiser (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A man who threatened to have a gun robbed a downtown Berkeley bank Wednesday morning, according to authorities.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said the department is investigating a robbery at Chase Bank, at 2390 Shattuck Ave., near Channing Way. 

Coats said the call about the robbery came in at about 10:05 a.m. … Continue reading »

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Robbers caught after police chase through Berkeley

Police recovered this vehicle after a robbery and chase Friday. Photo: Citizen reporter
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Update, May 13: Police have released the names of the three people arrested in this incident. A male suspect is still at-large. Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats identified the three as Kenneth De Arman, 18, of Oakland, Kameron Caine, 18, of Berkeley and a 17-year-old girl from Oakland. They were arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and being an accessory to a felony. De Arman also was arrested on suspicion of robbery and hit and run.

Original story, May 11: Police detained three people, but are still looking for a fourth, after a robbery near Berkeley High School on Friday afternoon.

According to Berkeley Police Officer Jennifer Coats, department spokeswoman, police responded to a report of a strong-arm robbery near Bancroft Way and McKinley Street on Friday just after 3:45 p.m.

The suspects left the scene in a red sedan, but an officer spotted the car leaving, and followed it.

The occupants led police on a chase through town, but ultimately stopped on Acton Street north of Carleton Street in South Berkeley, then fled on foot.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley neighbors help catch 4 teens in dramatic effort after strong-arm robbery

Brookside Avenue. Photo: Google StreetView
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Alert residents worked together Sunday afternoon to help catch four Oakland teens police say robbed an 18-year-old woman on Brookside Avenue in Berkeley’s Claremont neighborhood.

The dramatic incident occurred May 3 at around 12:30 p.m. and resulted in the arrest of four girls: three 16-year-olds and one 14-year-old, according to the Berkeley Police Department.

It began when a driver on Brookside witnessed a young woman being accosted by two teens on the corner of Brookside and Claremont avenues.

The 18-year-old was approached from behind by two people who grabbed her phone and started to open her backpack, said police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. The woman struggled over the phone with one of the robbers, then another of them struck her, Coats said. During the struggle, one of the teens grabbed a necklace from the woman, and another took her wallet from her backpack. The group fled to a waiting vehicle.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Police catch 2 armed robbery suspects after high-speed chase through Berkeley, Emeryville

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The high-speed chase ended in Emeryville, near Powell Street Plaza, where the two suspects were eventually apprehended, according to Officer Jennifer Coats, spokeswoman for the Berkeley Police Department.

Coats said the armed robbery happened at Arch and Virginia streets one block north of the UC Berkeley campus at 8:42 p.m. Coats said it was most likely a pedestrian robbery, although she wanted to confirm that.

A police officer saw two suspects fleeing in a vehicle and, when the officer tried to pull the car over, the suspects fled and evaded the police, according to Coats.

After several police cars had pursued the suspects for awhile, the suspect’s vehicle became disabled near the I-80 off-ramp near Powell Street, Coats said. … Continue reading »

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Violent crime dropped 25% in Berkeley in 2014

Berkeley's annual crime report is coming up Tuesday night. Image: Berkeley Police Department
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Police officials will give the Berkeley City Council a broad overview of 2014 crime trends Tuesday night, showing significant reductions in the city’s most serious incidents.

Last year saw a 25% reduction in violent crimes, and a 5% reduction in property crimes. The annual crime report draws largely on data submitted to the FBI. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports program tracks homicide, robbery, rape, burglary, larceny, auto theft and aggravated assault across 17,000 law enforcement agencies, which represent 90% of these agencies nationwide.

The city saw increases in aggravated assaults (8%) and commercial burglaries (28%). Arson reports were flat. Police said the assaults “frequently involved alcohol or drug abuse by victim and/or suspect, and frequently involved acquaintances.”  … Continue reading »

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Felon to face 2012 Berkeley robbery, carjacking charges

Image: Google maps
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A 37-year-old Concord man is set to face charges after a 2012 robbery series in Berkeley that targeted the Magic Fingers massage parlor on University Avenue, which has since closed.

Samay Pomsouvanh was charged in the case in 2012, but he was not tried in the matter because he was sent to prison in connection with an armed robbery at the home of a prostitute in San Mateo.

Pomsouvanh was released from prison into the custody of the Alameda County sheriff’s department in early February to face the pending charges against him for the 2012 incidents in Berkeley.

According to court documents, Pomsouvanh and four associates — Quoc Bui, Eddie Chiwei Cheung, Aaron Boungnarith and Whitney Sullivan — were tied to robberies in 2012 at Magic Fingers, at 2047 University Ave. (west of Shattuck Avenue), on June 18, June 23, July 1 and July 6, along with another incident of robbery and carjacking June 27. The suspects reportedly posed as law enforcement officials, and tied up their victims with zip ties or duct tape during the robberies. … Continue reading »

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Police link Berkeley felon to 6 gas station robberies

Police linked a Berkeley man to six gas station robberies in 2013 and 2014. The Alameda County district attorney's office has charge him in connection with two. Image: Google maps
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A Berkeley man police tied to six gas station robberies along University Avenue in 2013 and 2014 is heading to prison after entering a guilty plea for one count of felony second-degree robbery.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office initially charged Alphonzo McInnis, 23, with three felony counts of second-degree robbery in connection with two incidents in October, and misdemeanor grand theft due to a stolen credit card that was used after one of them.

According to the district attorney’s office, McInnis pleaded guilty Jan. 28 to second-degree robbery, and will serve time in state prison as a result. McInnis attended Berkeley High School, according to his Facebook page.

In court papers, Berkeley Police Officer Mike Parsons wrote that he was convinced McInnis was the culprit in two robberies in Berkeley — on Oct. 3, at Chevron, and Oct. 29, at the Econo Gas station — despite the fact that he had covered his face during the incidents.  … Continue reading »

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Pair arrested in Berkeley after armed robbery spree

Police arrested two men on suspicion of robbery during a vehicle stop in South Berkeley on Friday. Photo: Yvonne Paytosh
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Police have arrested two men they say confessed to three armed robberies — at two Berkeley convenience stores and an El Cerrito fast food shop — over a period of about 10 hours Friday.

One of the men told police he was responsible for two other armed robberies in Alameda County on Jan. 31, according to court papers.

Following a report of Friday’s third robbery, a Berkeley police officer spotted the gold van the men were reported to have been driving, and pulled them over to make the arrest. The Alameda County district attorney’s office charged the pair Monday with four counts of second-degree robbery in connection with the Feb. 6 incidents.

According to court papers, 25-year-old David Tafel and 57-year-old Elmore Shivers robbed the 7-11 at 2887 College Ave. (at Russell Street) at 1:35 a.m. Friday. Video surveillance showed a man entering the store and brandishing a gun at the cashier behind the counter. The gunman was followed inside by a second man, who put a plastic bag on the counter. The man with the gun can be seen, police wrote, pointing the gun at the clerk, who hands over the cash. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police ask for help to find suspect after iPhone robbery of elderly man (video)

Police are asking for help to find a man responsible for a robbery in December. Image: BPD
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The Berkeley Police Department is asking the community for help to find a man who robbed an elderly shopper of his brand new iPhone on Fourth Street the day after Christmas.

According to a statement released by police Thursday, an 83-year-old man was walking with a family member on Fourth near Hearst Avenue shortly after 1 p.m. Dec. 26 when the strong-arm robbery took place.

“They had just left the Apple store after purchasing a new iPhone,” police said in the statement. “The suspect followed the victim, and then forcibly took the iPhone … injuring him in the process.”

Police released a video of the robbery, and shared it with the media Thursday. It appears below. … Continue reading »

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After ordering pizza with stolen card, teen charged with 4 armed robberies in Berkeley

Image: Google maps
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An 18-year-old man arrested in November — after authorities found him by tracking a stolen debit card used to order pizza — has been charged with four armed robberies near the North Berkeley BART station that took place last fall.

Police arrested Berkeley resident Marcell Stargetti along with two juveniles Nov. 24 after an armed robbery at Acton and Delaware streets at about 1 a.m. Police said they located the robbers after they used one of the debit cards they had stolen to order pizza. Officers intercepted the order and pretended to deliver the pizza to make the arrests.

According to court papers, police linked Stargetti to three other armed robberies in the area — on Sept. 13, Sept. 19 and Nov. 23 — using items found during a subsequent search of a home nearby, also in the 1300 block of Delaware Street. Police said they found an unloaded firearm, as well as “various stolen items … in the toilet tank.” Police also reported the discovery of ID cards, credit or debit cards and other suspected stolen items. … Continue reading »

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More details emerge on UCPD carjacking, robbery arrests

The view from Grizzly Peak Boulevard near Signpost 15. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Three Concord teenagers alleged to have kidnapped and carjacked a couple on Grizzly Peak Boulevard on Thanksgiving Day have been charged with 11 felonies in connection with robberies in Oakland and Walnut Creek on Nov. 27.

Authorities said they also matched the description, and were linked by surveillance footage and a license plate, to a robbery and attempted robbery in Lafayette that same day.

Police investigators said the crew first carjacked a couple on Grizzly Peak, and forced them to drive to an ATM in Walnut Creek to withdraw cash. Afterward, the group is alleged to have robbed another couple on Grizzly Peak, pistol whipping one victim and stealing a container of coins and other property.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office has identified the teens as Jose Avila and Brenton Holtzclaw, both 18, and Ricardo Padilla, 17. (Padilla’s name was not released previously by police because he is a minor, but he is being charged as an adult and his name appears alongside those of his co-defendants on court documents.) The charges — of second-degree robbery, kidnapping to commit robbery, kidnapping for carjacking, carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon — involve five separate victims. … Continue reading »

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