Crime round-up: DNA hit, ‘hot prowl’ attack, ATM snatch, new fundraiser, more

Four sisters who were in a deadly crash in Berkeley in May
Fundraisers have been launched for three sisters involved in a deadly crash in May: Dyani, Lissette and Luvette (from left). Luvette did not survive. Photo: Courtesy

Berkeleyside regularly reports on notable Berkeley crimes, which include incidents that involve violence or weapons, or that readers have asked about. In 2018, the Berkeley Police Department handled about 73,000 incidents and made more than 2,000 arrests. Every month, there are 200-300 Part 1 crimes in Berkeley. Most Part 1 crimes, which are the categories tracked by the FBI, are serious felonies. Arrestees are innocent until proven guilty.

“HOT PROWL” BURGLARY A stranger broke into a couple’s home Friday night in the 2100 block of Woolsey Street (near Shattuck Avenue) and attacked them when he was discovered, police report. The couple awoke at 10:30 p.m. to hear a knocking sound on their bedroom door. One of the residents looked around but saw nothing unusual, so the couple — a 32-year-old man and 31-year-old woman — went back to sleep. Less than an hour later, the couple heard noises in their living room. When they got up to look, they found a man in their home. When they yelled at him, he punched the woman in the face and knocked the man to the ground, BPD said. The stranger ran out of the house without taking anything. The man and woman sustained cuts and bruises from the attack. The interloper was described as a black man, 20-30 years old, 6 feet tall with a large build and shoulder-length dreadlocks, wearing a gray zip-up jacket.

ATM MACHINE STOLEN FROM MARKET Early Friday morning, burglars attached a chain to an ATM bolted down at the convenience store at 1343 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (at Rose Street) and drove away dragging it behind them. The burglary happened at about 5:30 a.m. Witnesses said the thieves fled in a white SUV and a black sedan. It’s not the first time this has happened this year.

NEW FUNDRAISER AFTER DEADLY CRASH Berkeleyside has previously reported on two fundraisers related to a fatal crash May 31 that killed one sister and critically injured another. After the crash, Berkeleyside learned that, in fact, four sisters had been in that vehicle, a Ford Fiesta, when a man driving a Tesla struck them. A third fundraiser has now been launched for Dyani, the sister who was driving. The SFSU student’s Ford was destroyed in the crash: “Due to the injuries Dyani sustained in this accident, and the emotional transition her and her family are experiencing at the moment, she will not be able to work,” according to the fundraiser listing. Money raised will help with rent and other expenses.


FIREARMS CHARGES FILED A 30-year-old Oakland man is facing two felony firearms charges that stemmed from a police investigation into a shooting in South Berkeley in early May, according to court papers. BPD investigators served a search warrant in East Oakland on May 23, at the home of Davin Thet, in connection with that shooting. During the search, police said they found two handguns and a 100-round rifle drum along with a device that can convert a handgun “into a compact, combat worthy, user friendly assault rifle within seconds,” according to BPD. Investigators wrote in court documents that they found the guns under a bed where Thet’s 4-year-old child was sleeping. According to BPD, Thet is prohibited from having guns because of a past felony conviction. Wednesday, the district attorney’s office charged Thet with possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition. He is set for a pretrial hearing June 27, according to court records.

DNA HELPS SOLVE TRUCK THEFT CASE DNA on a baseball cap forgotten in a Ford F250 truck stolen from Berkeley late last year led to the arrest in May of a Vallejo man, according to court papers. On Nov. 28, a man heard someone stealing his work truck, which contained about $150,000 in tools, from the 1300 block of Kains Avenue. The truck owner, using another vehicle, was able to follow the thief and confronted him in El Cerrito, according to BPD.

After the confrontation, the alleged thief fled. But the truck owner found a 49ers baseball cap in his truck bed. BPD had that cap analyzed for DNA. When the results came back, the cap’s owner was identified as Colm Briody, who “has a history of auto theft,” BPD wrote in court papers. The truck owner also identified Briody during a double-blind line-up as the person who had stolen his Ford.

Police brought Briody from Solano County Jail to Berkeley Jail on May 20. When he spoke to police, he denied that the baseball cap was his and said he had not stolen the truck, telling BPD “he was not going to say anything that would incriminate himself.” The next day, the DA’s office charged Briody with one felony count of vehicle theft, according to court papers. He was released from jail on his own recognizance and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing July 23.

YOUTH ARRESTED IN VEHICLE THEFT CASE Five teenage boys from Richmond, Oakland and Rodeo were arrested Thursday afternoon when police found them inside a stolen vehicle from San Rafael, authorities report. BPD responded to Ninth Street and Allston Way at about 1:10 p.m. on a report that people were trying to break into a car. When officers arrived, they found five boys in the vehicle, which was parked on Ninth near Bancroft Way. During a search, police also found a punched ignition column and a saw, indicating vehicle theft, according to BPD. The five teens — a 13-, 14- and 15-year-old from Richmond, a 14-year-old from Rodeo and a 16-year-old from Oakland — were arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft, possession of stolen property, conspiracy and possession of burglary tools. Police did not release their names because the arrestees are minors.

CAL STUDENT ROBBERY ATTEMPT A 26-year-old UC Berkeley was walking on Hearst Avenue (near La Loma Avenue) Sunday at 11:15 p.m. when a dark-colored sedan pulled up beside him. A man, who said he had a gun, got out of the vehicle and demanded the student’s money. The student ran off and the man drove away. He was last seen driving south on La Loma. The man was described as white, in his 30s, with a medium build and a dark beard.

LAPTOP THEFT FROM CAFFÈ STRADA A laptop thief struck Caffè Strada again. Last week Tuesday, June 4, a 28-year-old man from San Pablo was sitting in the outside patio at the café, at 2300 College Ave. (at Bancroft Way), at 8:40 p.m. when someone came up to him from behind and grabbed his computer. The thief ran to a getaway vehicle — a dark SUV with a roof rack — that was waiting for him on College. The thief was described as a black man in his 20s, about 5 feet 9 inches tall with a thin build, wearing dark jeans and a hooded top.

CHARGES FILED IN POLICE IMPERSONATION CASE A 20-year-old Oakland man who was charged previously with impersonating a police officer has been charged again with the same misdemeanor offense in connection with events in May in Berkeley and in San Leandro in June. Police have said Sergio Taylor has pretended to be a cop in multiple Bay Area cities and that there are open investigations in some of those cities. In May, Berkeley police say Taylor waved a gun at people at Kip’s bar on Telegraph Avenue during efforts to clear the bar after a large fight. In June, San Leandro police arrested him dressed like a police officer at the city’s annual Cherry Festival. According to SLPD, Taylor had a Taser with him, which is prohibited because of his probation terms. Wednesday, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged him in connection with the Berkeley and San Leandro incidents, according to court records. He was released on $30,000 bail and is scheduled for an attorney and plea hearing Thursday.

“WELL-KNOWN BURGLAR” CAUGHT A burglary investigation in Berkeley led to identity theft, vehicle theft and mail theft charges last week against a man police described as a “well-known burglar in the city of Berkeley” and a woman on probation for burglary, according to BPD. The case began May 28 when someone stole a wallet and credit cards from an apartment in the 2400 block of Dwight Way (near Dana Street), according to court papers.

Just after the burglary, surveillance video captured 33-year-old Jatinder Singh, who was driving a stolen Jeep Cherokee, buying gas at Chevron then trying to withdraw cash from an ATM at an Oakland doughnut shop, according to BPD.

Three days later, according to court papers, police pulled that Jeep over. Singh was in the passenger seat and a woman, identified as 28-year-old Mariah Miles, was driving. BPD learned that the Jeep had been reported stolen from Oakland in mid-December. Miles told police she’d only had the vehicle for “weeks,” but BPD found photographs of the Jeep on her cellphone going back to just before Christmas.

Last week Tuesday, June 4, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Singh with identity theft and attempted identity theft, and Miles with vehicle theft. All three are felony charges. Both were also charged with misdemeanor mail theft.

Miles had just entered a no-contest plea to a burglary charge in April and was placed on probation through May 2022, according to court records online. Singh has at least six prior felony convictions for attempted burglary, according to charging documents. Cities of residence were not listed in court documents for either Singh or Miles. Singh is being held at Santa Rita Jail on $180,000 bail and Miles on $55,000 bail. They are both scheduled for a pretrial hearing Wednesday, according to court records online.

PAROLEE FACES NEW CHARGES A 31-year-old Oakland man on parole for robbery has been charged with forgery and identity theft, both felonies, after showing up at his parole office May 29 with checks belonging to four people and personal information from five others, according to police.

Back in April, police began looking into a fraudulent check for about $225 that someone had cashed at Wells Fargo, at 2659 College Ave. (near Derby Street). Police identified Orlando Williams Jr. through surveillance footage, according to BPD.

He was released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to enter a plea Wednesday at the René C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland.

MAN TAKES PLEA IN FELONY ID THEFT CASE A 30-year-old Antioch man pleaded no contest to felony identity theft this month after cashing a fraudulent check for more than $1,100 in October, according to court documents. Police had begun looking into Anthonio Nunez on Oct. 12, 2018, when the check, which had been cashed at the Check Cashing Center at 2005 San Pablo Ave., had been flagged as fraudulent by a collection agency. BPD looked into Nunez, a felon, and found that he had been “arrested several times for carjackings, robberies, and firearms violations throughout Contra Costa County,” police wrote.

On May 23, after Nunez was arrested, he told police in a post-Miranda statement that he knew the check was fraudulent and admitted he had cashed it, according to court papers. On June 4, he entered his no-contest plea. He is scheduled for a sentencing hearing July 3 at the René Davidson Courthouse, according to court records. Nunez remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail.

CHARGES FILED IN PERFUME THEFT CASE A 27-year-old Vallejo woman has been charged with grand theft and commercial burglary in connection with the theft of about $2,000 in perfume from Sephora on Fourth Street in early May. According to court papers, Erianna Fountain and three other women committed the theft together, then fled the store in a white Honda Accord belonging to Fountain. BPD alerted other local agencies to the theft, and an Emeryville PD officer told BPD that Fountain was also suspected to have stolen items from Sephora in Emeryville the same day.

Police arrested Fountain on May 22. During a search of her vehicle, authorities found suspected stolen property and a magnet “used to steal from retail stores,” police wrote in court documents. The DA’s office charged Fountain on May 25 with grand theft and commercial burglary, which are both felonies, in connection with the Berkeley theft. Emeryville PD did not pursue charges in its case, according to BPD. Fountain was released on her own recognizance and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing July 18.

One of the women BPD said was with Fountain at the Berkeley Sephora — Armaneisha Belvin, 19, of Oakland— was charged in May with 10 felonies for allegations outside of Berkeley, including multiple counts of commercial burglary and grand theft of perfume during incidents Feb. 18, Feb. 27, March 9, May 2 and May 3 at an Ulta Beauty Store and March 9 at a Big 5 sporting goods shop in Alameda. Authorities listed the value of items taken by Belvin and three others at Big 5, after they were in the store for 10 minutes, at about $2,400. Belvin also was charged with robberies Feb. 27 and May 3, according to court papers. She entered a no-contest plea to one count of robbery, according to court papers. Belvin is slated to be sentenced June 26.

PAIR CHARGED IN ID THEFT CASE A man and woman arrested during a car stop in early May have been charged with felony possession of the personal information of more than 10 people. According to court papers, BPD found more than 65 “identity theft profiles” during the stop, and confirmed 17 victims.

Police stopped the pair driving at Fifth Street and Hearst Avenue on May 6 shortly before 9 p.m. because the driver did not have a valid license, according to court papers. The driver, 43-year-old Alison Hash, and passenger Darmell Isaacs, 45, of San Francisco both initially gave police fake names, according to court documents.

They both entered not guilty pleas May 23. Hash, whose city of residence was not listed, has past convictions for identity theft and vehicle theft. Isaccs has a past conviction for robbery, which was a strike.

The pair is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Thursday. Isaacs remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $145,000, according to court records online. Hash was released on her own recognizance.

CRIME STATS THROUGH SUNDAY In the past four weeks, there have been 31 violent Part 1 crimes reported in Berkeley: 20 robberies, six rapes and five aggravated assaults. There have been 216 violent Part 1 crimes reported in 2019.

On the property crime side, there have been 235 reported in the past four weeks: 157 thefts, 43 auto thefts, 35 burglaries and no arson reports. For the calendar year, there have been 1,425 Part 1 property crimes reported.

Of the burglaries, 25 were home burglaries and 10 were commercial. Of the theft reports, 22 were grand theft, 64 were petty thefts and 71 were auto burglaries, according to BPD data.