Fourth Street Apple store. Photo: Patrick Nagel
The Fourth Street Apple store (file photo). Photo: Patrick Nagel

A band of thieves struck the Berkeley Apple store Friday in what authorities described as a “coordinated effort,” and a problem that has been faced by numerous Apple stores around the Bay Area.

The theft took place shortly before 3 p.m. at 1823 Fourth St. in Berkeley’s popular Fourth Street shopping area.

Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver said store employees reported that a group of at least seven males entered the store and, “using a coordinated effort, stole several iPhones and other Apple products.”

A reader told Berkeleyside he “saw a group of kids cut the security cords at the front table of products and make off” with what he estimated to be six iPhones and iPads.

The group then left the store and fled northbound on Fourth Street before witnesses lost sight of them. 

Said Rateaver, “Apple has been a victim of this type of theft before, not only in Berkeley, but indeed area wide.”

He said the Emeryville Apple store as well as others across the San Francisco Bay have experienced similar thefts.

“It’s not just one guy,” he said. “It’s a mob scene. Two hold the doors, everybody else grabs the phones.”

The thieves then run out and pull the doors closed behind him.

Police searched the area but no arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing.

It’s not the first time thieves have targeted the store in recent weeks. On Nov. 3, suspects stole multiple laptops from the shop shortly after 2 p.m., then drove off in a minivan, police told Berkeleyside previously. There was also an incident at about 3:40 p.m. Nov. 11 that came in over the police scanner as a robbery via knife at the Apple store. (No further information was immediately available.)

Last year, police responded to the store in March after an alleged heist where a teenager tried to purchase more than a dozen iPhones with a fake credit card. Later in the year, thieves drove through the shop’s front window during a smash-and-grab burglary at about 3 a.m. Police also released a video of an elderly man who was robbed after shopping at the Apple store the day after Christmas.

The Dec. 4 Apple store theft was one of several calls that kept officers busy Friday. Police also responded to Walnut Street for a welfare check and found what appeared to be a dead body. Officers quickly realized it was a medical situation, said Rateaver, and initiated rescue efforts. No further information was available due to privacy laws.

Police also were called at about 2:15 p.m. to Dwight Way and McGee Avenue when someone reported that a woman appeared to be abusing her two children. Officers made contact with the woman, said Rateaver, and the investigation is ongoing.

Earlier in the day, police provided support to city staff during the shut-down of a homeless encampment at Old City Hall, which also tied up officers for several hours. Police made three arrests during the operation, but all three people were expected to be cited and released Friday, the city spokesman told Berkeleyside.

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, Nov. 5-11 (11.20.15)
Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, 10/29-11/4 (11.16.15)
Berkeley police ask for help to find suspect after iPhone robbery of elderly man (video) (01.30.15)
Authorities: Berkeley Apple store thief strikes again (06.10.14)
Car used for smash-and-grab at Apple store in Berkeley (05.09.14)
Teen tries to buy 14 iPhones, 2 laptops with fake credit card at Apple store (03.18.14)

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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 of the Year...