Starbucks in Berkeley. Photo: Miguel Vaca

Five teenage boys, ages 13-17, were arrested Thursday night in connection with a laptop grab at Starbucks in downtown Berkeley, along with a second theft at a downtown eatery, authorities report.

Berkeley Police Lt. Angela Hawk said officers responded shortly after 10 p.m. to the downtown area after a customer at a local business reported a laptop theft. Police later identified that business as the Starbucks coffee shop at 2128 Oxford St.

Hawk said five suspects were involved, and they reportedly left in a gray car. Berkeley officers saw a similar vehicle nearby and stopped it at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Addison Street.

After further investigation, the occupants, all juveniles, were arrested in connection with the Starbucks incident as well as a similar theft at a downtown eatery. The stolen property was recovered, Hawk said. All the youth were from Oakland and Hayward.

Friday morning, Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver noted that “this type of grab and go ‘carry out’ is becoming all too common in our downtown coffeehouses and cafes. Patrons inside the cafes are particularly vulnerable, as oftentimes their attention is diverted elsewhere, or they are looking at their device, and not keeping tabs on their surroundings.”

Rateaver urged community members to stay aware of their surroundings, particularly while standing in line, sitting in cafes, getting in or out of a vehicle or unlocking a bike. He said the idea is not to be paranoid, but to help avoid becoming the victim of a crime.

“Criminals are looking for those who would be distracted,” he said.

Thursday night’s theft at Starbucks follows a similar theft involving several teenagers at the same Starbucks shop earlier this month.

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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...