A spate of robberies were reported Monday night in Berkeley. Image: Google Maps
A spate of robberies was reported Monday night in Berkeley near the Cal campus. A theft of a cellphone was also reported in South Berkeley. Image: Google Maps
A spate of robberies was reported Monday night in Berkeley near the Cal campus. A theft of a cellphone was also reported in South Berkeley. Image: Google Maps

Update, 3:15 p.m. Police have said, in a Nixle alert published Tuesday afternoon, they believe there is a “high probability” that the five pedestrian robberies near the UC Berkeley campus late Monday night are related.

Police have released brief suspect descriptions as well. The robbers were described as two black men in their late teens or early 20s. One was 5 foot 7, medium build, wearing a gray sweatshirt, and the other was 6 feet tall with a thin build wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.

A gun was seen by victims in the last three robberies. In the first instance, the robbers made threats of a gun, and the second robbery did not involve a weapon.

Original story, 7 a.m. Police in Berkeley were kept busy Monday night by five robberies that took place in less than 2 hours. If that sounds fast, think again: The first four incidents were reported within just 30 minutes.

The robberies took place south of the UC Berkeley campus, within blocks of College Avenue, and may have been related, authorities report.

A gun was seen or mentioned in several of the incidents, while others were strong-arm robberies.

Police Sgt. Andrew Frankel, department spokesman, described the number of events as out of the ordinary for Berkeley.

“Our city averages five to six a week,” he said. “This kind of spike is unusual.”

Limited information was available early Tuesday morning because the reports were still being completed.

Four of the robberies took place in the Southside neighborhood near the UC Berkeley campus within about 30 minutes. The reports came in at about 10 p.m. at Dwight Way and Piedmont Avenue, 10:15 p.m. at Benvenue Avenue and Parker Street, 10:18 p.m. at Channing Way and Dana Street, and 10:30 p.m. at Garber Street and College Avenue.

The next incident was reported about 2 miles away, in South Berkeley, at 11:15 p.m. at Ellis and Fairview streets. According to unconfirmed scanner traffic, someone asked to use the victim’s cellphone, then took off with it. Legally, that’s classified as a theft. (Update, 3 p.m. Police said they do not believe this incident was related to the others.) 

That was followed, at 11:41 p.m., by a robbery at Benvenue and Parker back in the Southside neighborhood not far from College.

Frankel said, as of about 2:30 a.m., that no one had been arrested, but that police believe the robberies may be linked to each other based on the descriptions provided of the people responsible.

He said police would not be releasing suspect descriptions at this time, or any information about what was taken. According to unconfirmed scanner recordings, cellphones were targeted in at least some of the cases.

Police ask anyone with knowledge of these incidents to call BPD’s dispatch center at 510-981-5900 and ask to speak with the robbery detail.

Monday night, police were also on the hunt for a missing at-risk woman, who was ultimately found safe in Oakland at about 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Robberies appear relatively flat compared to last year

As of mid-July, there had been more than 145 robberies reported to the Berkeley Police Department in 2016, according to CrimeMapping.com, a repository for police data. Another eight robberies had been reported to the University of California Police Department.

Last year, during the first six months of the year, 165 robberies were reported to BPD alone. That was a steep increase from the prior year.

The numbers could be ticking up, however.

There were 31 calls for service to BPD listed as robberies in July, which is higher than the average month this year, according to BPD data posted online.

(Calls for service can, upon investigation, later be determined to be a different type of incident. The number of confirmed robbery reports was not available as of publication time, however, because the department has not updated those reports since the second week of July due to a technical problem.)

Have a question about a local public safety incident? Write to crime@berkeleyside.com. Photographs and videos are always appreciated. Read more about robberies in Berkeley. See the Nixle alert released by BPD at 2:40 p.m.

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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...