Approximate, block-level, locations of seven of the nine restaurant robberies in March and April. Source: CrimeMapping/Berkeleyside
Block-level locations of seven of the nine restaurant robberies in Berkeley in March and April. Locations for the other incidents could not be determined with the available data. Source: CrimeMapping/Berkeleyside

Police arrested three men Friday after an investigation into a series of robberies that saw armed, masked perpetrators holding up a total of 23 restaurants in the Bay Area, nine of which were in Berkeley.

The “take-over-style” robberies began at the beginning of March, according to a Nixle alert sent out by BPD at around 10:45 a.m. Thursday.

Sgt. Andrew Frankel, spokesman for BPD, said the suspects were masked and had guns. He described a “take-over-style” robbery as those using  “force and fear.”

The three men arrested were Kristoffer Jones, 18, of Albany; Shawan Spragans, 40, of Oakland; and Merl Simpson, 46, also of Oakland.

The 23 restaurants — primarily in Berkeley, San Francisco, San Leandro, Albany, Oakland and Hayward — were being targeted shortly before, or just after, closing time by the same suspects, according to the BPD statement.

The break in the case came just after midnight Friday, April 22, when the men attempted to rob a bar in San Francisco that was under surveillance by the San Francisco Police Department.

After the third Berkeley robbery, detectives began reaching out to neighboring police departments to share information and develop leads, according to BPD. A task force of officers from San Francisco, San Leandro, Albany, Oakland and Hayward, as well as the FBI, all assisted in closing the case.

BPD said it became clear based on “the suspects’ calm demeanor and video evidence obtained from the victim businesses” that “a comprehensive effort would be required to apprehend them.”

Berkeleyside has requested information about the dates and locations of the robberies in Berkeley, and will update this post if those are provided.

There have been at least 50 robberies, including pedestrian robberies, in Berkeley since March 1.

BPD is asking members of the community to come forward if they have additional information concerning these crimes. Reach the Berkeley Police Department by phone at 510-981-5900 (anonymously if you wish) or via email at

Update, 4:10 p.m. Police declined to release the restaurant names in response to concerns expressed by the impacted businesses. The incidents took place at or near closing time March 3, 20, 22 and 26; and April 4, 7, 11, 14 and 16.

According to, here are the listed locations of robberies on those dates:

  • March 3: multiple locations possible
  • March 20: 3000 block of Shattuck Avenue (between Ashby and Emerson)
  • March 22: 2400 block of Bancroft Way (between Telegraph and Dana)
  • March 26: 1900 block of University Avenue (between MLK and Milvia)
  • April 4: 2800 block of Telegraph Avenue (between Stuart and Russell)
  • April 7: 2900 block of Telegraph Avenue (between Russell and Howe)
  • April 11: 2100 block of Ward Avenue (between Shattuck and Fulton)
  • April 14: 1700 block of University Avenue (betwen McGee and Grant)
  • April 16: multiple locations possible

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Berkeleyside’s Emilie Raguso contributed reporting to this story.

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...