Source: Google Maps/Berkeleyside
Source: Google Maps/Berkeleyside

In just 20 minutes, there were two pedestrian robberies, and one attempt, in Berkeley on Wednesday night, and police are warning the community to be on the lookout for the trio believed to be responsible for them. In two of the incidents, victims were punched while their property was taken, according to police and community reports.

The incidents took place from about 9:10 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, beginning in South Berkeley and moving up into North Berkeley.

Police did not release a lot of detail about the alleged robbers, but said — in two of the cases — they were described as two black women and one black man, all of whom appeared to be in their late teens or early 20s. (No suspect information was available in the other case.)

“Based on the descriptions of the suspects, their close geographic and temporal proximity, investigators believe that the incidents are related,” according to a Nixle alert released by BPD early Thursday afternoon. 

The first incident took place at about 9:10 p.m. in the 2700 block of Milvia Street, near Derby Street. Police said one of the robbers tried to grab the victim’s wallet, but he was able to hold onto it and ran into a neighboring business for help.

About 10 minutes later, in the 1600 block of Berkeley Way, near California Street, a man “grabbed the victim’s cellphone by force while two female suspects punched the victim in the head,” police said.

In the third incident, just before 9:30 p.m., a lone pedestrian was approached by a group of three in the 1700 block of Spruce Street, north of the UC Berkeley campus.

Police said “The victim resisted and fought back but ultimately gave the suspects his backpack and its contents.”

(Update, 4:15 p.m. According to a post on the Wildfire crime-alert app, the third victim was a UC Berkeley student. The robbers were described in that post as three black teenagers. The male was thin and appeared about 5 feet 10 inches tall, and the girls appeared around 5 foot 3 to 5 foot 4: “There was a fourth driver waiting in a white station-wagon-ish car, one of those with a long trunk.” The victim wrote that the male pinned him down and, along with one of the girls, punched him when he resisted and tried to run away. He wrote, on Facebook, “I don’t think they were armed, but wouldn’t take chances because he threatened to ‘pop me.’”)

BPD said additional officers have been assigned “to respond to and deter further incidents of pedestrian robberies” in Berkeley.

Authorities released the following safety tips, particularly for pedestrians who are out walking after dark:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings
  • Travel in large groups whenever possible
  • Consider putting your smart phone in a pocket while in transit
  • Attempt to travel in well lighted, highly populated areas whenever possible

Police ask anyone with information about these incidents to call BPD’s Robbery Detail at 510-981-5742.

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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...