Berkeley crime log: Violent robbery, catalytic converter thefts rise, more

Berkeley police reported on several crimes this week. They appear below. Send tips to Berkeleyside with your public safety questions.

Berkeley police reported on several crimes this week. They appear below. Send tips to Berkeleyside with your public safety questions. Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. 

CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFTS CONTINUE The number of catalytic converter thefts in Berkeley more than tripled from 2019-20 — rising from 150 in 2019 to 516 in 2020 — and there have already been 74 this year, police report.

On Thursday, police released a video of what they said shows the typical pattern for these thefts: two or three people in a vehicle driving through several neighborhoods and taking multiple catalytic converters over the course of an hour or so.

“Perhaps the most impactful thing you can do,” police said in a statement Thursday, “is to have your mechanic secure your vehicle’s catalytic converter with a theft security device.”


Police also asked community members to immediately report anyone who appears to be tampering with a vehicle, and advised motorists to park in a garage or well-lit area to reduce the likelihood of being targeted. BPD said community members may also want to consider using a high-resolution video surveillance system to catch crimes as they happen.

MAN ARRESTED AFTER KIDNAPPING, ROBBERY REPORT On Tuesday night, a woman in her 40s walking in central Berkeley was attacked by a man who put her in a chokehold and dragged her a short distance before she was able to escape and seek help, authorities report.

The woman was walking through the gas station at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and University Avenue just before 9 p.m. when a man blocked her path and grabbed her by the neck before dragging her behind the station, police said. The woman dropped her purse and was able to get away.

The woman asked a male bystander for help and he went to the gas station to retrieve the purse, police said. But the suspect, identified as 59-year-old Jonathan Wright (no address), pulled out a knife and started chasing the man, according to authorities. BPD said Wright continued to chase the bystander until Wright tripped over the median on University Avenue.

Police found Wright at the gas station and took him into custody. He had the woman’s cellphone, police said, as well as a folding knife with a 5-inch to 6-inch blade and a glass pipe that is commonly used to smoke methamphetamine. Wright was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, which are listed in jail records as felonies, as well as two misdemeanors.

Wright remains in custody, according to court records, and is being held at Santa Rita Jail on $237,500 bail. He is scheduled for arraignment Friday at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.

Police said a man with warrants brandished this axe on Parker Street last week. Photo: BPD

AXE BRANDISHING ARREST On Friday, Feb. 19, at 9:15 p.m., police were dispatched to the 2500 block of Parker Street, near Regent Street and Hillegass Avenue, when someone reported a man who was hitting vehicles on the block with an axe. Police said they searched the area and found the man, identified as 29-year-old Lucas Glassy (no address) a few blocks away in the 2400 block of College Avenue. Police said they also found the discarded axe nearby. Glassy was arrested on suspicion of brandishing a weapon and for two warrants, police said. He is no longer in custody, according to court records, so no additional information was available about his case.

BURGLARY, METH ARREST Police arrested 35-year-old Francisco Naranjosoto (no address) after he broke into a building on Essex Street early Saturday morning, authorities report. At 4:15 a.m., police responded to the 2000 block of Essex Street (between Adeline Street and Shattuck Avenue) “on a report of a person screaming profanities and then breaking into a building.” The man walked outside when police arrived and officers took him into custody without incident, police said. “When officers searched the suspect, they found a digital scale and 38+ grams of methamphetamine.” Naranjosoto was arrested on suspicion of burglary and possession of drugs for sale as well as two arrest warrants. He is no longer in custody, according to jail records online, so no further information was available about his case.

CRIME REPORT SNAPSHOT From Jan. 1 through Feb. 23 (the most recent date available), there were reports of 51 robberies, 108 burglaries, 90 assaults or batteries, 20 weapon-involved calls, seven sex crimes and six arson calls, according to CrimeMapping.com, a repository for local police data. (Click the “show crime report” box that appears toward the top of each linked page to display a list of incidents below the map.) There were also 122 stolen vehicles, 78 disturbances and 153 auto break-ins reported.

Robberies in Berkeley, Jan. 1-Feb. 23. Image: CrimeMapping
MORE POLICE DATA Find statistics related to BPD calls for service, arrests, jail bookings and detailed information about police stops in the city’s open data portal. The city also posts a heat map showing 180 days of calls for service.

Emilie Raguso is Berkeleyside’s senior editor of news. Email: emilie@berkeleyside.org. Twitter: emraguso. Phone: 510-459-8325.