Police: Violent robberies, alleged burglar caught red-handed (literally), more

Berkeley Police station. Photo: Emilie Raguso

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 crimes in Berkeley. Most Part 1 crimes, which are the categories tracked nationally by the FBI, are serious felonies. Arrestees are innocent until proven guilty.

LAPTOP ROBBERY Four people in ski masks went into Sack’s Coffee House on Saturday night and robbed two UC Berkeley students of their laptops, police report. The robbery, at 2701 College Ave. (at Derby Street) happened at 9:20 p.m. Police say one of the students, a 21-year-old woman from Goleta, was able to get her computer back after she chased after the robbers. But some of them “pushed the woman to the ground and started kicking her” when she caught up with them. Initially, police said, the woman had tried to hold onto her laptop, wrestling over it with a masked robber who grabbed it. He ran to the getaway vehicle, which was parked in front of Sack’s. When she followed him, his associates attacked her, police said. But the suspect dropped the woman’s laptop during the encounter. Medical personnel treated her at the scene for minor injuries.

During the robbery, the group also took a laptop from a 19-year-old Berkeley man. The robbers drove off in a maroon or burgandy sedan that headed east on Derby.

Last week, the University of California Police Department (UCPD) reported that two groups of students were robbed at gunpoint in Berkeley.


PEDESTRIAN ROBBERIES

Last week Tuesday, April 30, two robbers attacked a 33-year-old Berkeley man walking in the 1700 block of Virginia Street (near McGee Avenue), hitting him in the head after he tried to run away. The man was walking just before 10:15 p.m., police said, when two people approached him. One of them grabbed the man and demanded his backpack. The pedestrian tried to run, but the men chased him: “When the suspects caught up with the man, both suspects began to hit the man’s head. The suspects pulled the man’s backpack from his back” and demanded his phone. They took the items then ran to a nearby vehicle and drove off. Witnesses described the robbers as Hispanic men in their 20s wearing all black clothing.

Friday, two men knocked a 21-year-old Berkeley woman to the ground and grabbed her phone when she was walking on College Avenue near Stuart Street at 1 p.m. The men approached the woman from behind, police said. One knocked her down and the other took her phone from her hands. The men, described as black, ran to a silver car parked nearby and drove off.

Early Friday, at 5 a.m., a man who claimed to have a gun pulled up next to a woman walking in South Berkeley and demanded her wallet. The 24-year-old San Jose woman was walking at Adeline Street near Harmon Street when the man pulled up to her in what police described as a “yellow/green SUV.” The driver opened his door, said he had a gun and demanded the woman’s wallet. Instead, the woman dropped some money on the ground and ran off. Police said the driver took the money and left.

Witnesses described him as a black man in his 40s with a salt-and-pepper goatee/beard, wearing a dark-colored hooded top.

“A familiar theme among many of these incidents is the theft of personal electronic devices,” police said in a prepared statement Wednesday. BPD advised community members to keep phones and laptops 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.”

PARKING STRUCTURE ROBBERY The University of Berkeley Police Department sent a community alert about a robbery Thursday in a campus parking structure. UCPD got a report from someone who had been walking in the Ellsworth Parking Structure (at Channing Way) at 9:45 p.m. when the robbery took place. According to UCPD, three men in their early 20s confronted the victim “when he touched the hood of a mint green Toyota sedan.” One of the men pushed him against the sedan and took his laptop out of his backpack. Then the men fled in the vehicle, police said. No further information was released.

OTHER PUBLIC SAFETY NEWS

CAUGHT RED-HANDED? A 20-year-old Berkeley woman has been charged with burglary after police stopped her with red paint on her hands just after a burglary and vandalism report in a West Berkeley home. Police said a resident in the 1000 block of Hearst Avenue came home April 23 just before 5:40 p.m. to find that his front door had been kicked in. He saw a man and woman inside. According to police, “several walls had been spray painted with red and green paint” in “triangle looking shapes.” When police arrived, they stopped Erika Baccay outside. According to court papers, she had red paint on her hands and was “in possession of items” from the home. During the investigation, police also spoke with a nearby neighbor, from the 1900 block of 10th Street, who said she had seen Baccay trying to push open her door at 3:20 p.m. The woman had taken photos of Baccay outside her home, police wrote.


According to court papers, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Baccay on April 26 with two felonies, burglary and attempted burglary, while another person was present.

Baccay was released on $20,000 bail and is no longer in custody, according to court records online. She is set for a pretrial hearing June 6 at the René Davidson Courthouse in Oakland.

Police say the male intruder from the home has not been arrested.