Berkeley police: ID theft case, criminal threats, guns seized, more

Police said they found this loaded handgun during a traffic stop last week at Seventh and Parker streets. Photo: BPD

The Berkeley Police Department regularly releases cases of community interest, which include incidents that involve violence or weapons or that people in the city have asked about. In 2018, BPD handled about 73,000 incidents and made more than 2,000 arrests. Every month, there are more than 300 Part 1, or serious felony, crimes in Berkeley. Arrestees are innocent until proven guilty.

ROBBERY ON BERKELEY WAY Two people robbed a young man and woman on Berkeley Way on Sunday just after 12:20 a.m., police report. The 18-year-old woman and 21-year-old man were walking in the 1800 block of Berkeley Way, near Grant Street, when two strangers tried to take their backpacks. There was a struggle, and the robbers got one of the bags and fled. Police said the man was pushed to the ground and got cuts and abrasions during the encounter. Both robbers were described as black males wearing all black clothing. One was in his 20s and the other had a thin build. Police offered the following safety tip: “One common theme between most of these incidents is that they are occurring during the hours of darkness. When you are out at night, please consider travelling through well-lit areas or travelling with a friend. When travelling with a personal electronic device … consider keeping it out of sight when possible. If you see something that you think is suspicious, be sure to say something by notifying the nearest police agency.”

VEHICLE STOP LEADS TO ID THEFT CASE Police arrested a 30-year-old Berkeley man early Monday morning and linked him to paperwork for more than 200 identity theft profiles, authorities report. Just before 12:45 a.m., police stopped a U-Haul truck near University Avenue and Eighth Street due to an equipment violation. The driver turned out to be unlicensed, police said, and a subsequent vehicle search turned up checkbooks, identification and mail that didn’t belong to her or her male passenger. “As the investigation continued, officers discovered paperwork for over 200 identity theft profiles as well as checks and tax forms that did not belong to the passenger,” police said. The passenger, Levell Simmons, was charged Wednesday with fraudulent possession of the personal information of more than 10 people and fraudulent possession of personal information with a prior ID theft conviction, both felonies. He has five convictions dating back to 2010 for ID theft, vehicle theft and receiving stolen property. The woman does not appear to have been charged and is no longer in custody. Simmons remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail on $135,000 bail. He is set to enter a plea March 13, according to Alameda County Superior Court records online.

THEFT FROM A PERSON A thief grabbed a backpack Friday from a man in the Southside neighborhood and ran off. A 21-year-old man was standing in the 2600 block of Regent Street (near Parker) at about 10 p.m. when someone approached him from behind, “grabbed the man’s backpack from off of his shoulder” and ran south on Regent, police said. Witnesses said the suspect was a black male (no age provided), about 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a heavy build, in a black sweatshirt.


BURGLARY WARRANT Police arrested 29-year-old Christopher Jones on Tuesday on a warrant related to several burglaries in Berkeley, according to police and records online. Jones, a painter, was arrested in San Jose at 8:50 a.m., according to court records. Berkeley police said only that the arrest was “part of an on-going investigation into three residential burglaries in Berkeley.” At least one of those burglaries took place in 2018, according to court records. Jones remains in custody at Berkeley Jail with a bail of $150,000. He is set for arraignment Friday.

FELON FOUND WITH GUN Police who stopped a speeding driver found a loaded gun during a car search, authorities report. On Feb. 20 at about 10 p.m., patrol officers saw the driver speeding on Seventh Street near Parker Street. Officers made a car stop and found that the driver had no license. Police searched the vehicle and found a loaded handgun under the driver’s seat. Police arrested the driver, 34-year-old Jeffrey Sneed Jr. of Oakland, on suspicion of multiple gun-related violations.

Sneed remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $185,000 and has been charged with four felonies: carrying a concealed firearm, carrying a loaded firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition by a prohibited person, according to court records. Sneed has past convictions for drug sales and burglary. He entered not guilty pleas Feb. 21. He is set for preliminary hearing March 6.

HIDDEN HANDGUN At 3:35 a.m. Saturday, police made a car stop at Fairview and Baker streets after seeing a driver “swerving between lanes” at Sacramento Street and Ashby Avenue. BPD said the officer then noticed the driver, a 39-year-old Berkeley man, showing signs of intoxication. During a search of his vehicle, officers found a loaded firearm. Police arrested the man on suspicion of driving under the influence, a misdemeanor, and three felonies related to the concealed, loaded gun. The man is no longer in custody and charges did not appear to have been filed as of Thursday, according to court records online.

CRIMINAL THREATS A speeding driver brandished a gun and threatened to kill a man who yelled at him to slow down last week, police said. On Feb. 20 at about 6 p.m., a 38-year-old man had just parked on Parker (near Dana Street) when a driver “came speeding down the street,” BPD said. The man who had parked yelled to the driver to “slow down,” according to police.  “The speeding vehicle abruptly stopped (with skidding wheels)” and the driver jumped out yelling, according to BPD. He “reached in his waistband, brandished a handgun, and threatened to kill the man” who had yelled, who quickly left the area because he was afraid of being harmed. Witnesses described the driver as a white man, about 5 feet 9 inches tall with a medium build, in a baseball cap and a black hooded top. His vehicle was described as a blue four-door sedan last seen westbound on Parker.

Police said they found a gun and drugs during a car stop Saturday at San Pablo and Folger. Photo: BPD

GUN FOUND Saturday just before 7:40 p.m. at San Pablo and Folger avenues, police saw a vehicle with expired registration and pulled over the driver, 53-year-old Budell Murray of Oakland, authorities report. During the stop, police saw and smelled marijuana in the vehicle. When they searched her, police said they found a loaded pistol and methamphetamine. Murray was arrested on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance while armed and having a forged or altered vehicle registration, both felonies, along with several misdemeanors related to the loaded gun and controlled substances. She was charged with three misdemeanors related to the gun and drugs, and entered not guilty pleas Monday, according to court records online. Murray is no longer in custody.

PAROLEE ARRESTED Police stopped a 27-year-old man who had a parole warrant out for his arrest Sunday at 5 p.m. after they saw him looking into cars in a parking lot in the 1800 block of Allston Way, just outside the south gates of the police department, authorities report. When the man realized police had seen him, authorities said, he walked away, toward Martin Luther King Jr. Way. When officers detained him, they found him to have an outstanding parole warrant and arrested him. He is not listed as an inmate in Alameda County jail. BPD said he may have been picked up by an outside agency.

ALTERED BB GUN Saturday just before 12:20 a.m., police on patrol saw a man walking at San Pablo and University avenues swinging a gun in the air, according to police.

“When officers drove closer, the suspect put the gun in his jacket,” said BPD in a prepared statement. “Officers then got out of their patrol vehicle, drew their duty weapons and ordered the suspect to put his hands in the air. Instead of complying with their orders, the suspect put his hands back in his jacket and pulled out the handgun. Officers ordered the suspect to drop the gun.”

Police detained the man after he dropped the gun, which officers then determined was a BB gun without its orange tip. Officers arrested the 48-year-old Berkeley man on suspicion of having an imitation firearm altered to resemble an air rifle and public intoxication.

The man is no longer in custody and charges do not appear to have been filed, according to court records online.

ANNIVERSARY OF ZACHARY CRUZ Police marked the 10-year anniversary of the death of Zachary Cruz on Wednesday with traffic enforcement campaign at the scene of the crash that killed the little boy. A driver in a truck struck and killed Zachary when the 5-year-old was walking at Warring and Derby streets Feb. 27, 2009. Wednesday, police conducted traffic enforcement stops at the intersection, “educating numerous drivers about traffic safety and issuing 15 citations.” Police said a California Office of Traffic Safety grant funded the effort, which focused on education and enforcement of stop sign, seatbelt and right-of-way violations: “Today’s efforts, made in his memory,” police wrote Wednesday, “are intended to help safeguard our community through education on traffic safety and enforcement.”

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