Police arrested this man April 5 in connection with a robbery south of campus. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Police arrested this man April 5 in connection with a robbery south of campus. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Earlier this year, the Berkeley Police Department relaunched its monthly newsletter to let community members know about notable arrests and incidents, as well as crime prevention tips and safety resources. Along with beat maps and police contacts for each neighborhood, the newsletter highlights arrests and open cases in Berkeley from the prior month. The fifth edition of the newsletter came out in May. Scroll down for highlights.

Help from the community

Image: BPD
Image: BPD

Police have identified this man, in blue, as possibly connected to a theft at the Downtown YMCA at 2001 Allston Way. On April 4 between 10:30 and 11:45 a.m., police said a thief broke into a personal locker in the men’s locker room at the Y and stole some credit cards. Later that day, according to police, this man used the credit cards to purchase thousands of dollars of merchandise at a nearby store. Police ask anyone with information about the incident, or the identity of this man, to call Property Crimes Detective Melanie Turner at 510-981-5737. (Click the image to the right to view it larger in the newsletter.)

Click to view larger. Image: BPD
Image: BPD

On April 15, at about 4:15 p.m., police say the woman on the left tried to withdraw thousands of dollars, fraudulently, from a victim’s Wells Fargo Bank account at 2959 College Ave. “Using identification stolen from pickpocketing days prior, the suspect fled the bank after bank tellers became suspicious.” Police said the woman was accompanied by the man shown in the photo on the right. Police ask anyone with information about this incident to call Property Crimes Detective Alex McDougall at 510-981-5737. (Click the image to the left to view it larger in the newsletter.)

Noteworthy calls and arrests

Police received numerous 911 calls about gunshots on Harmon Street near California Street in March and April. On March 27, at about 6:15 p.m., police received several calls about gunshots, and arrived to find four parked cars that had been struck by bullets. On April 10, at about 6 p.m., police also received calls about gunshots heard in the area; they arrived to find a vehicle, abandoned in the intersection, with numerous bullet holes, as well as bullet fragments that were lodged into the exterior walls of nearby homes.

On April 5, at 2:45 p.m., a woman walking on Piedmont Avenue near Parker Street was robbed of her iPhone, which she had been carrying in her hands. Police said the robber ran west on Parker. Two men working in the area heard the woman scream and decided to follow the robber while others dialed 911 to report the crime. Police Officer Matthew Valle responded to search for the suspect, and saw the two workmen chasing the robber. Valle yelled for the robber to stop, but the man kept running past him. Valle chased the suspect west on Parker, and captured him near Parker and Hillegass Avenue. The officer found the stolen cell phone nearby, and also found a jacket discarded during the robbery that contained a replica weapon. (See a Berkeleyside photo feature about this police shift.)

The robbery took place on McKinley. Image: Berkeley Police
The robbery took place on McKinley. Image: BPD

On April 18, police arrested an alleged cell phone thief after a short pursuit around Berkeley High School. A woman was walking on McKinley Avenue at about 2:30 p.m. when a man approached from behind, grabbed her iPhone, and tried to rip it from her hands. He pushed her into some bushes and ran away with the phone. Police Sgt. Spencer Fomby was at his desk in the department’s Community Services Bureau when he heard a broadcast about the robbery; he ran outside and began patrolling the area to look for the robber. While driving east on Channing Way, he spotted the apparent suspect. As Fomby approached, the suspect noticed him and took off running, said police. As Fomby chased him, the robber ran past several portables at Berkeley High, and threw the phone onto the roof of a classroom. He jumped a fence into a construction site at the school, then eventually reached a dead end and gave up. Fomby took him into custody on suspicion of robbery.

Three men were arrested after allegedly beating and robbing a television reporter of his press credentials in the 2400 block of Telegraph Avenue on April 18. After receiving the 911 call from the reporter, Telegraph Avenue UCPD-BPD Joint Patrol officers apprehended two of the suspects. The third suspect was located and arrested two days later by Berkeley Police officers. See raw video of the robbery below; the video was posted on YouTube by KRON 4.

Click to see the full newsletter.
Click the map to see the full Berkeley Police Department newsletter.

Over the past month, Berkeley Police have noted a pattern of the theft of work trucks and vans from businesses: “Thieves appear to be focusing on the vans and work trucks for the equipment and tools within.” Police encourage business owners to park vans in a secure parking lot or garage for increased protection.

Other helpful information

Civilian community services officers staff the Berkeley Jail. Image: Berkeley Police
Civilian community services officers staff the Berkeley Jail. Image: Berkeley Police

The Berkeley Police Department released a short report about the Berkeley Jail, which holds an average of 200-240 inmates a month. There are 16 cells with a combined capacity of 39 detainees. When suspects are brought to the jail, they are fingerprinted, photographed and searched. Visiting hours to inmates are from 4:30-6 p.m. weeknights and 1-3 p.m. weekends. If they don’t arrange bail, inmates are held at the jail until their first court appearance, where they are advised of the criminal charges that have been filed against them. Community services officers, who are civilian employees, run operations at the Berkeley Jail. For more information, call the jail at 510-981-5766.

Police remind residents and business owners to “beware the warmer weather,” which can lead to open windows that thieves may use to gain entry. Police say there’s been a rise in home burglaries already this year, and encourage residents “to make an extra effort to not leave [open] doors and windows unattended.”

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National Night Out is coming to Berkeley on Aug. 6: “The City of Berkeley welcomes all Neighborhood Watch Groups, local businesses, faith based organizations, and community groups to organize and join us in a festive and positive night.” The event is a celebration of “community, safety, disaster preparedness, and the fight against crime.” Members of the Police and Fire departments, as well as other city staff, visit community groups that participate. To register, email Berkeley Police Officer Stephanie Polizziani, at spolizziani@ci.berkeley.ca.us.

The South Berkeley Senior Center also gets a shout-out in the newsletter. Read about the program here.

MADD will hold a fundraising event in Berkeley on May 11, in Cesar Chavez Park. The “Walk Like MADD” event raises money for the SF Bay Area Chapter to help prevent drunk driving, prevent underage drinking and support the victims of violent crime. For more information, visit www.walklikemadd.org/sanfrancisco.

The Berkeley Police Department has begun posting a “calls for service” log to its website. See it here.

Residents can sign up to receive the monthly police newsletter by sending an email to police@cityofberkeley.info, or to their local beat officer

Berkeley Police newsletter: Car stop nets guns and more [04.25.13]
Police newsletter: Thieves sought, burglars caught [03.13.13]

Prior Berkeley Police newsletters:
Issue 5

Issue 4
Issue 3
Issue 2
Issue 1

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our All the News grid.

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...