This is a partial list of crimes in Berkeley from June 30-July 5 prepared by the Berkeley Police Department:

Armed Pedestrian Robbery – Russell and Milvia Streets – On June 30, 2011 at approximately 9:00 p.m., a 25-year-old Berkeley man was walking home westbound on Russell Street near Milvia, when he was confronted by two male suspects in their late teens. One suspect pointed a black handgun at him while the other checked the victim’s pockets. The two suspects stole a cell phone, wallet and contents. Both fled on foot, south on Adeline. The victim was not physically injured during the crime.

Strong Arm Robbery – Oxford and Cedar-  On July 3, 2011 at about 9:50 p.m., a 21 year old Berkeley man was walking home when he was startled by a male suspect who asked him for the time, then quickly snatched an iPhone from his hand. Almost simultaneously, the victim told officers, a second male suspect who was behind him grabbed his wallet. The two suspects fled northbound on Oxford Street and out of sight. The victim picked up his wallet that had been discarded. A small amount of cash inside had been stolen as well. The victim was not physically injured during the crime. 

Strong Arm Robbery – 1300 block of Henry Street – On July 3, 2011 at about 9:53 p.m., a 20 year old Albany man told BPD officers that he was out for a job and was in the 1300 block of Henry Street. He saw a male sitting at a bus bench. The victim then saw another male suspect approaching him from the left while the suspect who had been on the bus bench immediately got up and got behind the victim. The two suspects began throwing punches at the victim, one of them landing a punch to the side of his head. The victim handed over his iPhone and the two suspects ran west on Berryman Street. Although the victim was visibly shaken, he did not have any visible injuries. Officers flooded that area but did not find the suspects.

Robbery via strong arm and Kidnapping –  2700 Block of College Avenue  – On July 3, 2011 at about 10:55 p.m., a 22 year old Berkeley man was walking southbound on College Avenue when he approached three male suspects on the sidewalk. Two suspects walked behind him while the third suspect walked along side him and demanded his backpack. When the victim began walking faster, the two suspects who were behind him pushed him to the ground and pointed knives at him. They took his wallet and cell phone from his pocket then forced him into the backseat of a dark sedan, drove a block then “threw him out” on the 2700 block of Benvenue Street. BPD officers checked the area but did not locate any suspect, evidence or additional witnesses. The victim complained of pain but refused medical attention.

Robbery via threats – 1900 block of University Ave – On July 5, 2011 at about 9:40 p.m., a 26 year old Berkeley man was sitting at the bus stop in the 1900 block of University Avenue, when he was approached by three male suspects. One of the suspects asked the man what time it was and asked to borrow his cell phone. The man offered the suspects the time but refused to let them borrow his phone.  After refusing to give up his phone, one of the suspects threatened him and reached to his waistband suggested he had a gun. The victim handed his Apple iPhone to one of the suspects. The three suspects then fled eastbound on University Avenue on foot.  Officers did extensive area checks but did not locate the suspects. The victim was not physically injured during the crime.

Robbery via strong arm -College Avenue and Garber Street – On July 5, 2011 at about 9:55 p.m., a 19 year old Berkeley man was walking home by himself in the area of College Avenue and Garber Street when he saw two men standing around and smoking just ahead of him.  As he passed the two men, one grabbed his Apple iPhone out of his hand, while the other suspect punched him and tried to steal his shoulder bag. The suspects then fled southbound on College Avenue. The victim refused medical attention at the scene.

Robbery via strong arm – Woolsey  and Tremont Streets – On July 5, 2011 at about 10:48 p.m., a BPD officer heard a woman screaming in the area of Woolsey and Tremont  Streets. The officer found a woman who told him she had just been the victim of a robbery.  According to the 27-year- old Oakland resident, she was walking eastbound on Woolsey when a male suspect walked up to her and blocked her path. The suspect then grabbed the victim’s iPhone and attempted to grab the shoulder strap of her purse.  The victim lost her grip on her phone and then fell to the ground. The victim was able to kick the suspect and scream for help.  Neighbors in the area heard the victim screaming and yelled out to the suspect to leave her alone.  The suspect let go of the victim’s purse and ran to a waiting light colored unknown make or model that was last seen leaving the area south on Tremont Street. An area check for the van and suspects was fruitless. The victim sustained abrasions to her elbow and pain, but would seek her own medical treatment.

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

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35 Comments

  1. NO.  They used to, but stopped doing so a couple years ago for reasons unknown.  It was very similar to the list currently published by the UCPD, which you can find on their web site.

    Currently there does not appear to be an authoritative source of information available .. sites like crimemapping.com and this digest offer only a sanitized, incomplete set of data.

  2. Ah, the 80’s. When suddenly oddly inexpensive rock cocaine was for sale on the streets, and so many so quickly were addicted. We later found out from whence the crack came, too late to prevent the decimation of a generation of low-income families. West and South Berkeley were lousy with it…and the accompanying thefts of anything that could be quickly sold for the low price of another hit of crack. 
    Now jobs are scarce and many who aspire to improve their lot through higher education are priced out of the option. I don’t care for that. 
    Thank goodness the bankers are ok. Long live the rich!

  3. So  your saying that it’s ok to rob someone who has more more then the next guy? You really do deserve your name.

  4. Let’s be serious, whatever Berkeleyside’s virtues may be in relation to the alternative local media, at this stage of its development has not yet found or produced a journalist or journalism in the mold of a Ben Hecht:

    In 1921, Hecht inaugurated a Daily News column called One Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago. While it lasted, the column was enormously influential. His editor, Henry Justin Smith, later said it represented a new concept in journalism:

    “the idea that just under the edge of the news as commonly understood, the news often flatly unimaginatively told, lay life; that in this urban life there dwelt the stuff of literature, not hidden in remote places, either, but walking the downtown streets, peering from the windows of sky scrapers, sunning itself in parks and boulevards. He was going to be its interpreter. His was to be the lens throwing city life into new colors, his the microscope revealing its contortions in life and death.”[

    […]

    Recalling that period, Hecht wrote, “I haunted streets, whorehouses, police stations, courtrooms, theater stages, jails, saloons, slums, madhouses, fires, murders, riots, banquet halls and bookshops. I ran everywhere in the city like a fly buzzing in the works of a clock, tasted more than any fit belly could hold, learned not to sleep, and buried myself in a tick-tock of whirling hours that still echo in me.”[

  5. That sounds worse — is BS really just passing along BPD’s sanitized weekly list?

  6. Bruce if you are going to make comments like this one:
    “Why do the “nicer” neighborhoods in Berkeley have a reputation as
    comprising mostly folks who are, by acts of commission and omission,
    oppressive to the underclass?” then you have to qualify them or not make them at all.

    The reason we have rampant property crime is because we don’t severely punish property crime or the City Council does not direct funding towards prevention. Not only that the City has build this infrastructure where perpetrators of crime are viewed as victims and the real victims are viewed as careless.

    What we have done in this City is to lower the bar – “nicer” neighborhoods is not the standard we strive for; integrated ok neighborhoods is the standard.

    Demand better and you will get better. What we really need is balance.

  7. “My guess is that, given so many of these kinds of thefts, probably someone is buying them up and shipping them overseas, much as was correlated with an increase in car thefts in recent years.   Maybe not … maybe they are being altered and resold locally. ”

    I’ve heard this from someone who lost his iPhone in NYC — that the phone could easily sell for $600 or so overseas. 

  8. I use crimemapping  http://www.crimemapping.com/   to keep up with what is going on in my neighborhood.  It’s not same day reporting   but I get an email each day.  Lots of crime around campus area    but nothing compared to what is going on in Oakland (I track a 2-mile radius).

  9. You wrote:

    There are third party applications available for tracking smart phones that do not require you to rely on the manufacturer or mobile provider.

    That is misleading.

    Using a third party application gives yet another firm access to your phone’s location data.   It does not subtract away the access of the other corporations or government entities.

  10. I assume that this isn’t a serious comment. But in fact the poorest neighborhoods are the plagued the most by thieves. When we lived in West Oakland in the 1980’s, while the high level of serious drug related crime was very high, so was the level of non-violent crimes. It didn’t help that some of the people living there were so alienated that they wouldn’t even report the crimes when they were the victims.

  11. Or, let’s call for everyone to learn self-defense, so we are less easily victimized.
    Really, thieves are emulating the country leaders, the bankers, the IMF, are they not?

  12. At least most of the thieves have the good sense to do their foul deeds where the more well-to-do people hang out. 

  13. Francis,

    this is a departure from past practice, could you ask Kumiss is this represents a policy change? thanks

  14. There are third party applications available for tracking smart phones that do not require you to rely on the manufacturer or mobile provider.  Also useful if you lose your phone in your own house.

  15. Why do the “nicer” neighborhoods in Berkeley have a reputation as comprising mostly folks who are, by acts of commission and omission, oppressive to the underclass?  Whether that reputation is deserved or undeserved, what steps can be taken to improve it?   I ask because I suspect that the preying upon those areas (and of people who identify on the street as of that economic demographic) is partly a result of their objectification by a larger underclass community with whom they have few other kinds of interaction.  Is that something that can be changed by swaying votes in a Berkeley election?

  16. When neighbors were pressing the BUSD to perform a crime impact analysis before unleashing the CDS on BAS they were called “NIMBYs” by ACOE. I think our elected officials are in denial and without demanding accountability we will continue suffering high property crime rates. I estimate that in our neighborhood of 500 homes at least half the people have been victims of property crime (reported and not reported). We live in fear and denial. Our elected officials reflect the latter!

  17. Berkeley has the highest Property Crime and Theft rate in the Bay Area – another reader (CrimeLab) posted the data in a previous article – who knows if CrimeLab is one of the banned Berkeleyside writers. Strong-arm robberies are not classified as violent crime. There is plenty of data – you just need to get it from the police.

    It is not the police’s fault if our policies do not suppress this kind of behavior. When you voted for City Council you gave a stamp of approval for this behavior.

  18. “Berkeley residents have been blissfully unaware of this ongoing crime
    wave it is a product of the fact that our police department does want
    the citizens of this town to know how ineffective their policing is
    (which we pay an arm and leg for)”

    This is an incorrect statement. It is a product of a City Council that never performs any impact analysis of any of the programs they implement in the city. It is a product of passive citizenship that keeps re-electing the same old people to the council. It is the product of tolerance for public misbehavior.

  19. Tizzielish,

    You are correct that it is trivially easy (for governmental and corporate authorities) to track the location of an ordinary cell phone or shut down a phone remotely.   As a favor, they can help you find or shut down your stolen phone if nobody has turned it off or altered it.   

    As a side effect, carrying your non-stolen cell phone with you is about as good as  just automatically reporting all of your recent travels, just in case someone more powerful than you wants to look them up.   You may as well just call in and report your location every few minutes only, you don’t have to — your phone does it for you.

    Nevertheless, I suspect that that doesn’t help much with most of these thefts, because….

    While some thieves do get caught by stealing and then using a cell phone or laptop, there is a larger game afoot.

    If the thief turns off the phone and then someone makes some simple alterations to it, it can no longer be traced.  It is essentially indistinguishable from an ordinary, anonymous used phone — ready for sale.

    My guess is that, given so many of these kinds of thefts, probably someone is buying them up and shipping them overseas, much as was correlated with an increase in car thefts in recent years.   Maybe not … maybe they are being altered and resold locally.

    From time to time the manufacturers of devices like these add features that make it harder to alter phones that way.   Those “improvements” make the work of thieves harder or impossible. 

    As a side effect, they make it easier for governmental and corporate authorities to track you and to monitor your use of the device.

    It is technically possible, at the same manufacturing cost,  to make phones for which there is no point in stealing them because they can be tracked or shut down BUT, also, the phone doesn’t help the government or large corporations spy on you.   The major phone manufacturers, so far, choose not to even try to do so.   They’ll give you the ability to shut down or track a stolen phone but only in exchange for greater ability to surveille you.

  20. In fact, I think this question has been asked enough times that one of our city council members might be be tasked to find out the answer.

    Susan?

  21. djt, you make it sound like reading and memorizing the six or seven digits and letters of a license plate, which might be many yards away, in the dark, is as easy as reading the alphabet on the blackboard of a first grade classroom, where the letters are writ large, lighting is good, the atmosphere is stress-free.

    I have never been able to easily read license plate numbers unless I am immediately adjacent to a car. Then factor in a moving vehicle, the stress of being assaulted and robbed. . . . 

    It’s not as easy as you make it sound to read, not to mention remember cause you are stressed and thinking about other things (like your wellbeing and, perhaps, the wellbeing of your companions) a license plate.

    One responsive thought I have as I read about all the iphone snatches:  I think it is relatively easy to track individual cell phones. If this is a pervasive problem, perhaps an educational public service campaign, not just in Berkeley but as an ongoing marketing effort by cell phone companies and phone companies who benefit from the sale and use of cell phones, to educate everyone that they can put apps on their phone that make them traceable, like a GPS. I think the tecjnology is relatively cheap

    I have read many stories, on tech-oriented web discussions, about Apple computers lack of cooperation after someone’s cell phone has been stolen. Apple, at least in the past, would not help people recover their stolen phones even though Apple could locate cell phones being used after theft. I might have this info wrong; I speak from fuzzy memory.

    I am sure folks can program their cell phones so the owner can disable the phone immediately after it is stolen. And folks can put on apps to trace their location. There was a recent story in, I think, the Chron, about how a guy’s laptop was stolen, the thief just started using it, and everytime the computer was online, the program the true owner had placed on it revealed the location. The cops worked with him, traced the thief to the location where the thief was blithely using the stolen machine.  We could do this with all mobile technology, it would be fairly inexpensive. a key would be to get police departments to cooperate. I know police departments are overtaxed but this quality-of-life kind of crime is going to rise as we become increasingly dependent on mobile technology.

    Instead of calling for frightened victims of street crime to memorize moving license plate numbers, let’s call for better technology to trace stolen electronics and then use the data and require our police to use that data. As the word got out that stealing such technology just facilitates getting caught by the cops, this kind of crime should plummet.

  22. djt, you make it sound like reading and memorizing the six or seven digits and letters of a license plate, which might be many yards away, in the dark, is as easy as reading the alphabet on the blackboard of a first grade classroom, where the letters are writ large, lighting is good, the atmosphere is stress-free.

    I have never been able to easily read license plate numbers unless I am immediately adjacent to a car. Then factor in a moving vehicle, the stress of being assaulted and robbed. . . . 

    It’s not as easy as you make it sound to read, not to mention remember cause you are stressed and thinking about other things (like your wellbeing and, perhaps, the wellbeing of your companions) a license plate.

    One responsive thought I have as I read about all the iphone snatches:  I think it is relatively easy to track individual cell phones. If this is a pervasive problem, perhaps an educational public service campaign, not just in Berkeley but as an ongoing marketing effort by cell phone companies and phone companies who benefit from the sale and use of cell phones, to educate everyone that they can put apps on their phone that make them traceable, like a GPS. I think the tecjnology is relatively cheap

    I have read many stories, on tech-oriented web discussions, about Apple computers lack of cooperation after someone’s cell phone has been stolen. Apple, at least in the past, would not help people recover their stolen phones even though Apple could locate cell phones being used after theft. I might have this info wrong; I speak from fuzzy memory.

    I am sure folks can program their cell phones so the owner can disable the phone immediately after it is stolen. And folks can put on apps to trace their location. There was a recent story in, I think, the Chron, about how a guy’s laptop was stolen, the thief just started using it, and everytime the computer was online, the program the true owner had placed on it revealed the location. The cops worked with him, traced the thief to the location where the thief was blithely using the stolen machine.  We could do this with all mobile technology, it would be fairly inexpensive. a key would be to get police departments to cooperate. I know police departments are overtaxed but this quality-of-life kind of crime is going to rise as we become increasingly dependent on mobile technology.

    Instead of calling for frightened victims of street crime to memorize moving license plate numbers, let’s call for better technology to trace stolen electronics and then use the data and require our police to use that data. As the word got out that stealing such technology just facilitates getting caught by the cops, this kind of crime should plummet.

  23. Agreed, BPD still isn’t sharing the daily list that they used to publish on their web site.

  24. Why do you filter the race of the victims and suspects from the description, but not the age or gender?  Both are there in the police report .. is that a conscious editorial decision or just a reflex?

  25. The robbery last week on my block happened mid-afternoon. There were other people out and about though not very many on a quiet block. There was no reason for the victim to be extra cautious.

  26. In all fairness to BPD, since Chief Meehan was hired the amount of information coming from the police department has increased and improved in quality. I think that our police department has become more transparent.

    It is still inadequate. I’d like to see all incidents reported daily by location. The information used in the CrimeView database is a week old and the quality of the information is not good. This is based on my own experience comparing what I know of what happened in my neighborhood against what is presented on Crimeview.

  27. Seeing as how I’ve been a victim of crime, I would not characterize myself as blissfully unaware. My intent was to prompt discussion as to whether this actually represents a change in the geography of Berkeley crimes, or whether Berkeleyside is just focusing this week on crimes in the east and south areas of town.

    My understanding was that violent crime in Berkeley has more or less been steady or decreasing over the past couple of years, perhaps if someone has data or non-anecdotal evidence to the contrary, they can set me straight.

  28. There were more strong arm robberies beyond what was reported in this selected report.

    There was another on my block in West Berkeley. Neighbors got involved immediately when they heard the commotion. They called the police and also drove the victim around the neighborhood looking for the robber all the while in contact with the police over the cell phone.

    Neighbors and BPD were unsuccessful in finding him.

  29. Lesson: don’t walk around alone while talking on your iPhone. 

    Can we get some descriptions of the perpetrators?  Age, identifying features, etc?  More detail on how the crime takes place?  Any license plate numbers?  Unless someone is laying on the ground wounded, they should be able to get a license plate number.  The only way to stop these types of crimes is for perps to think the chance of getting caught is too high.  Right now, it doesn’t seem to be too high.

    I say this as someone who was in an attempted robbery at gunpoint at Indian Rock many years ago.  Late at night.  Dark.  Didn’t have anything of value with me.  Turned and ran.  Slipped on some leaves and fell down just when the robber pulled the trigger.  Serious adrenalin rush.  Missed my girlfriend too who didn’t slip. 

  30. Lesson: don’t walk around alone while talking on your iPhone. 

    Can we get some descriptions of the perpetrators?  Age, identifying features, etc?  More detail on how the crime takes place?  Any license plate numbers?  Unless someone is laying on the ground wounded, they should be able to get a license plate number.  The only way to stop these types of crimes is for perps to think the chance of getting caught is too high.  Right now, it doesn’t seem to be too high.

    I say this as someone who was in an attempted robbery at gunpoint at Indian Rock many years ago.  Late at night.  Dark.  Didn’t have anything of value with me.  Turned and ran.  Slipped on some leaves and fell down just when the robber pulled the trigger.  Serious adrenalin rush.  Missed my girlfriend too who didn’t slip. 

  31. This is a tiny fraction of the total (property) crime going on every week in Berkeley and only a small sample of the violent crime happening.

    If you or other Berkeley residents have been blissfully unaware of this ongoing crime wave it is a product of the fact that our police department does want the citizens of this town to know how ineffective their policing is (which we pay an arm and leg for) and, prior to Berkeleyside, the other local media either largely ignored Berkeley or ignored most crime in Berkeley.   The Daily Cal mostly just covers crimes which affect students or which occur on or near the Campus. 

    Perhaps some of you recall the brief crime blotter section in the Berkeley Daily Planet penned by Richard Brenneman in which he attempted to be witty and make light of people being terrorized, punched in the face and otherwise harassed?  Even the Planet had to drop that feature due to reader backlash.

  32. Seems like a whole lot of awful going on in areas of town usually regarded as safe. What gives? Is this a new/growing problem, a coincidence, or merely a selectively biased sample from whole lot more awful going on everywhere else?