Image: Google Maps
Image: Google Maps

A woman walking in South Berkeley near Malcolm X Elementary School on Saturday night was assaulted and robbed, police said Monday, after being sprayed with an unknown liquid.

The woman was walking at 9:45 p.m. near Prince and Ellis streets, not far from the Ashby BART station, when two people approached her, said Officer Jennifer Coats, Berkeley Police spokeswoman, in response to a request from Berkeleyside.

The woman, a Berkeley resident, looked down momentarily and was “sprayed by a liquid,” which Coats said was “most likely pepper spray. “

One of the robbers then hit the woman with an unknown object, which knocked her to the ground.

Coats said the suspects took the woman’s cellphone and purse, then ran away on California Street, about two blocks west, north from Prince.

One local resident sent a notice to her neighborhood email list and described hearing the woman screaming. The resident went outside and the victim asked her to call 911 as the robbers ran off.

The resident said in the email that, a short time later, as she was on the phone with dispatchers, another neighbor said he’d seen the victim, whose face was bloodied and who had told him she had been assaulted by two men with a gun.

Coats said via email that the woman received non-life-threatening injuries and was taken by paramedics to a local hospital for treatment.

So far this year, through April 26, there have been 64 robberies reported to the Berkeley Police Department, and four others reported to the University of California Police in Berkeley.

Over the past six months, which have shown a downward trend, there have been 135 robberies reported to the Berkeley Police Department. (The chart above shows the number of robberies each month.)

In December, police deployed special patrols to crack down on robberies around the Ashby BART station after a spike in incidents in the area, which took place in South Berkeley as well as North Oakland.

There have been an estimated 27 robberies in the vicinity of the BART station since late October; those numbers too have shown a downward trend. Only one of those — the one described above — was in April.

Robberies in the vicinity of the Ashby BART station over six months, from Oct. 30 to April 26. Image:
Robberies near the Ashby BART station in the past six months, from Oct. 30 to April 26. Click the map for a list. Image:
Robberies near the Ashby BART station in the past six months, from Oct. 30 to April 26. Click the map for a list. Image:

Robberies reported throughout the city have been significantly lower in 2014 than they were last year over the same period.

From January through April of 2013, there were 140 robberies listed on, a data source for Berkeley Police statistics. There were 221 robberies reported during the first six months of that year.

The Berkeley Police Department has previously released the following tips in relation to robberies:

  • Be alert to your surroundings and people around you.
  • Don’t talk on cellphones or listen to other devices when alone, as they significantly limit awareness.
  • Don’t have your cellphones or other electronic devices visible and out while walking.
  • Be aware of locations and situations, which make you more vulnerable to crime, such as alleys, doorways, parking lots and stairwells.
  • Call the Berkeley Police Department to report suspicious persons or activity.

Read more context about local robbery trends here, or via past coverage of local crime statistics. See past Berkeleyside coverage about specific robberies in Berkeley. Crunch the numbers yourself by consulting or CrimeView Community.

3 teens arrested after Berkeley robbery, assault (04.23.14)
Robberies rise, but serious crime down overall in 2013 (03.14.14)
Alleged Berkeley wedding ring robber arrested, charged (02.05.14)
Violent threats, man with knife reports scare neighbors (02.28.14)
South Berkeley robberies on the rise near Ashby BART (01.17.14)
Police join forces on Berkeley-Oakland robbery series (12.11.13)
Pregnant woman robbed at gunpoint in South Berkeley (12.10.13)
Berkeley pedestrian robberies up 35%, burglaries up too (09.17.13)
Berkeley crime analysis: Robberies up 25% in 2013 (05.16.13)

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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...