Berkeleysider Melanie went to the neighborhood safety meeting on December 9 which was called by Councilmember Linda Maio — and which we flagged up in one of our recent stories about the current rash of armed robberies in the city. This is what she has to report:

A couple of BPD’s finest were at the meeting, including the very intelligent and active Officer Casimiro Pierantoni, and they talked about the North Berkeley armed robberies and crime prevention.

Two things: 1) For what it’s worth, the suspect is about 5’6″ to 5’8″. 2) Some of the targets were walking home from North Berkeley BART, talking on their cell phones and not paying attention to their surroundings.

Both cops at the meeting emphasized the importance not only of being aware of your surroundings, but of telegraphing this awareness: looking around while walking, instead of being absorbed on the phone or iPod; checking out people who are acting suspiciously (a car cruising slowly past you; a pedestrian who looks you over, walks around the corner and then comes back in your direction, etc.); AND MAKING IT CLEAR that you are aware of this behavior: crossing the street away from the suspicious car or person, running if your intuition tells you to do so, even if you worry about looking stupid.

Thieves look for easy marks, so don’t act like one.

(This advice does not imply that those people who were robbed deserved what they got. But I’d happily make a fool of myself if I suspected I was being set up and might possibly lose my wallet.)

Other advice from the meeting: keep a whistle on your keychain and blow it, loudly, if you want to attract attention and help. Walk back from BART, or walk your dog,  in the evening in small groups. Keep front and back porch lights on all night, and shrubbery well clipped, and urge your neighbors to do the same. Same message: thieves avoid people and places that look harder to rob.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...