Police investigated three armed robberies on Wednesday night downtown and in the Southside neighborhood near UC Berkeley, authorities report.
The city tends to average about one robbery per day, and only about 20% involve firearms, according to the most recent data available from BPD, so the spike was unusual.
The first two incidents took place at 7:30 p.m., said Officer Byron White in response to a Berkeleyside inquiry. In one, an 18-year-old man was walking westbound wearing headphones in the 2500 block of Channing Way, approaching Telegraph Avenue, when someone walked up behind him and demanded his property.
The robber took the man’s backpack, wallet and cellphone, then ordered him “to walk away from him slowly,” White said. Witnesses described the robber as Hispanic, in his late 20s, about 5’8″ to 5’9″ tall, wearing a black hooded jacket.
In the other incident at 7:30, a 21-year-old man was walking near Derby Street and Hillegass Avenue when a stranger with a gun approached him. The robber took the pedestrian’s backpack, which contained his laptop, then jogged to a dark-colored SUV waiting nearby, White said.
The robber in that case was described as black, in his 30s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall with a medium to heavy build, wearing a brown beanie cap and dark clothing.
The third robbery happened three hours later near Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Berkeley Way, White said. Two men in their early 20s were walking when a man with a gun approached them and demanded their property. The man took their backpacks and phones, then left.
Police said the robber was described as a black man, 26-33 years old, 5’7″ to 5’9″ tall, wearing dark clothing.
Police have not said whether they believe any of the incidents are related.
According to the most recent full-year data available from BPD, which is from 2018, pedestrian robberies make up about 67% of the robberies in the city, while about 30% target businesses.
Berkeley has had at least 34 robberies so far in 2020, according to police and CrimeMapping.com, an online repository for police data. (The robbery at MLK is not yet listed.)