Armed robbery series has Berkeley police on alert

Six pedestrian robberies have happened in North Berkeley since Saturday, police report. (In addition to the markers on the map, one of the robberies took place at MLK and Virginia.) Image: BPD
Five armed robberies of pedestrians, and one attempted robbery, have happened in North Berkeley since Saturday, police report. (In addition to the markers on the map, one of the robberies took place at MLK and Virginia.) Image: BPD

Five armed robberies and one robbery attempt have been reported in North Berkeley since last weekend, and most have happened near the UC Berkeley campus, authorities report.

A flurry of Nixle alerts has been released this week by the University of California Police and Berkeley Police departments to try to warn community members about what has occurred and how to stay safe. In addition to the six-robbery series, three other robberies were reported Sunday.

The most recent notice, released Thursday by BPD, included a map of the incidents and information about most of them. BPD released limited suspect information but noted that, “Based on the descriptions of the suspects, the close geographic proximity of the crime scenes, and the victims’ demographics, Detectives believe that the cases are related.”

The first robbery took place Saturday at about 11:30 p.m. Police said the male victim was sitting at a bus stop by UC Berkeley’s Cory Hall, near Hearst Avenue, when someone sat down next to him, displayed a gun and demanded his property.


The victim complied and the robber fled across the street into a waiting sedan. The robber (no description was provided) got into the passenger seat of the sedan, which fled northbound on LeRoy Avenue.

Two of the robberies took place Sunday, one at 10:30 p.m. and the next about 15 minutes later.

At 10:30 p.m., a male victim was walking west on LeConte Avenue, toward the 2500 block of LeConte, when someone with a gun “came out of the shadows” and demanded his property, BPD said in the prepared statement. The victim gave up his backpack then ran westbound on LeConte while the robber ran east.

At 10:44 p.m., a male victim was walking north on LeRoy toward LeConte when he heard someone running south just ahead of him: “The victim said … he saw a pistol in the suspect’s hand as he approached. The suspect demanded the victim’s backpack,” according to BPD, then fled south on LeRoy with the bag.

The next three robberies took place Wednesday.

The first was at 1 a.m. when the victim (no further info provided) was walking east on Ridge Road. A “tan-complected” male approached, pulled out a gun and ordered the victim to turn over his or her backpack. After getting the bag, the robber ran west on Ridge. No further description was provided.

The next two incidents took place shortly after 8 p.m.

At 8:10 p.m., BPD said the male victim was walking in the 1900 block of Virginia Street when someone got out of a parked car. According to police, the robber pulled out a gun and demanded the victim’s backpack. After getting the bag, the robber fled. (No description was provided.)

Other robberies this week, too, police say

Minutes later, according to a notice released by UCPD, there was an attempted robbery in the grove area on campus west of Haviland Hall. Three female students were walking when two people in masks appeared.

One robber displayed a gun and demanded the students’ property. UCPD said, however, “The suspects were unsuccessful and fled the area on foot, in a westbound direction.” No further information was provided as to what took place.

One of the masked men was described as a black male, approximately 21, who was 5 foot 8 inches tall with a thin build. He was clean shaven, and wore all black clothing “with white edges around his sleeve cuffs.” The other was an East Indian male, 19-21 years old, with a “thick build,” glasses and a goatee. He wore a red T-shirt under a light-colored button-up shirt and blue jeans, according to UCPD.

Earlier this week, UCPD also released notices about two other robberies Sunday in which weapons were shown or “simulated.”

Shortly before 1 a.m. at College Avenue and Derby Street, two people with a gun demanded a pedestrian’s property, UCPD said. When the victim complied, the robbers ran north on College. Officers couldn’t find the culprits. Minimal suspect description was provided.

Then, at 3:10 a.m., a man was talking on his phone on the sidewalk near the 2600 block of Ellsworth Street, between Parker and Carleton streets, when three or four people approached him.

He went inside an apartment to try to avoid the men, but they followed him. One acted as if he had a gun in his waistband and demanded the phone. The man turned over the phone and the robbers ran away.

At least three of the four were in their early 20s, 5 feet 8 to 5 feet 10, with a medium build. They wore dark clothing.

According to BPD’s calls for service log, there were a total of five robberies reported Sunday. The other incident was reported at 11:45 p.m. at Shattuck Avenue and Bancroft Way.

This week’s robberies follow an armed carjacking and robbery last week Thursday that took place in South Berkeley just before midnight. Police arrested two men in that case: Terrence Holyfield, 23, and 18-year-old Charles Anderson on suspicion of robbery, carjacking and felony evading.

According to a notice released this week by UCPD, Anderson also was responsible for another Berkeley robbery about 30 minutes earlier, at Arch Street and Hilgard Avenue. A woman was walking when authorities say Anderson walked up to her from behind, grabbed her bag and displayed a gun while demanding her property.

According to UCPD, Anderson “was arrested and linked to this case” after the carjacking.

Robberies have been high in Berkeley since July. Click the map to see a list.
Robberies have been high in Berkeley since July. Click the map to see a list.
There were 35 robberies reported to BPD in September, following 27 in August, 35 in July20 in June and 24 in May, according to CrimeMapping.com, which makes BPD data available online to the public.

Overall, crime was down in the first half of the year compared to 2015, which had the highest serious felony statistics since 2009.

Police have provided the following safety tips this week:

  • Travel in large groups when possible
  • Attempt to travel in well-lit, populated areas when possible
  • Be alert and aware of surroundings
  • Keep devices out of view as they are a popular robbery target
  • Calling 911 ASAP

BPD can be reached with relevant information at 510-981-5742. UCPD can be reached at 510-642-6760.

Related:
2 arrested after South Berkeley carjacking (10.11.16)

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