Berkeley police: Armed robbery, street thefts, attempted smash-and-grab among December crimes

Berkeley police cruiser (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso

Berkeley has seen a number of street robberies, attempted store burglaries and other crimes in December. This round-up is compiled primarily from Berkeley Police Department information sent out to the community as a Nixle alert.

Street robberies, theft

There were 16 robberies in Berkeley from Dec. 1-10, according to CrimeMapping.com, an online repository of police data. Berkeley generally averages a robbery a day.

On Dec. 5 at 7:15 p.m., a man and woman were walking in an off-street parking lot at San Pablo and University avenues when a stranger ran up to them, grabbed a digital camera from the woman’s bag and ran away. Limited suspect information was provided.

Police identified this man as the suspect from Civic Center Park, writing, “The … photograph of the suspect was taken several months ago and his appearance may have changed.” Photo: BPD

On Dec. 6 at 4:50 p.m., two teenagers (a boy and a girl) were hanging out near the fountain in Civic Center Park when a young man approached them and demanded that the boy give him his cellphone or he would be shot. The man took the phone and was last seen entering the Downtown BART station. He was described as black, 19-21 years old, about 5 foot 10, with a goatee, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt.


On Dec. 8 at 12:37 p.m., a woman was sitting on Shattuck Avenue (near Delaware Street) when a man asked her if he could use her cellphone. The woman agreed and handed it over. After a few moments, the man ran away with the phone. The woman chased him while yelling for help. Other bystanders also chased the man and called BPD. When officers arrived, they found the man near Berkeley Way and Bonita Avenue. When officers searched him, they found the stolen phone and several burglary tools. Police arrested Darren Cruz, a 25-years-old homeless man, on suspicion of possession of burglary tools, as well as an outstanding arrest warrant from Santa Clara County for battery. The woman told police did not want to press charges in connection with the theft.

On Dec. 10 at 10:11 p.m., a woman was walking in the 1700 block of LeRoy Avenue when a car pulled up next to her and two people got out. When one of them tried to grab onto the woman, she dropped her backpack and ran away. The suspects took the backpack and drove off. They were last seen heading north on LeRoy. Witnesses describe the suspects as two men, 18-25 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, wearing dark clothing.

Crimes at local businesses

Raleigh’s Bar & Grill: On Dec. 6 at 4:25 a.m., officers responded to Raleigh’s Bar & Grill on Telegraph Avenue for a report of man behind the business who was naked and throwing things around. When officers arrived, they discovered that he had broken into the closed business and caused an estimated $8,000-10,000 worth of damage (broken doors, glassware, beer taps, spilled beer, etc). Andrew Cullen, a 31-year-old Berkeley man, was taken into custody without incident and arrested on suspicion of felony burglary and vandalism.

7-11: On Dec. 6 at 5:24 a.m., someone armed with a handgun entered the 7-11 store at 1501 University Ave. and demanded money. When the suspect realized the police were on their way, he fled the store. The suspect was described as a white male, about 5 foot 7 to 5 foot 9, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt.

Apple: On Dec. 13 at 3:23 a.m., officers responded to 1823 Fourth St. after receiving multiple burglar-alarm activations. When officers arrived, they discovered a U-Haul truck abandoned (engine still running) that had been driven into the glass front doors of the business. The inner metal security gate/screen for the business remained intact and it does not appear that the suspect(s) were able to gain entry. Read more in past Berkeleyside coverage.

Other cases of note

On Dec. 9 at about 3 p.m., a 15-year-old girl walking on Shattuck Avenue (near Berkeley Way) accidentally stepped on the blanket of a woman sitting on the sidewalk. The woman got upset, stood up, made a comment about the girl’s breasts and then touched them. The girl then left the area and later called BPD. Officers responded and located the woman nearby. Antoinette Archimedes, a 53-year-old homeless woman, was arrested on suspicion of sexual battery and violation of probation.

On Dec. 13 at 9:50 a.m., officers responded to downtown Berkeley on a report of a stolen vehicle in the area. When police arrived, they spotted the vehicle leaving westbound from the area. Officers stopped the vehicle and arrested the driver at a gas station parking lot on the corner of University Avenue and Bonar Street. After the arrest, the driver told officers he had a “digital weapon” inside the vehicle that was potentially explosive.


Out of an abundance of caution, nearby buildings were temporarily evacuated while BPD’s bomb technicians checked the van. By 11:11 a.m., officers had determined that the van was empty and there was no threat to the public. Joseph Coleman, 27, of Berkeley was arrested on suspicion of taking a vehicle without the owner’s permission and possession of stolen property. Coleman’s photo was not provided, BPD said Monday, because of additional investigative work underway.