Two banks in Berkeley were robbed Wednesday. Image: Google Maps

It’s rare when Berkeley has even one bank robbery, but Wednesday there were two.

One robber struck Mechanics Bank on Solano Avenue late in the morning, while another hit Wells Fargo bank on Shattuck Avenue in the mid-afternoon. Police say they have not conclusively determined whether the incidents are related but currently do not believe they are.

At 11:50 a.m., a man in his 30s used a note to demand cash from Mechanics Bank at 1801 Solano Ave. (at Colusa Avenue). He was described as a black man wearing a long gray shirt who was last seen on Solano Avenue, said Officer Byron White, Berkeley Police Department spokesman.

Less than three hours later, officers responded to Wells Fargo at 2144 Shattuck Ave. (at Center Street) for the second reported robbery: “After demanding money, the suspect left the bank,” White said in a prepared statement. The robber was described as a short black man with a heavy build. He was wearing a blue sweater with a red hood.

Berkeley has consistently averaged about a robbery a day in recent years. In 2018, the most recent data available, Berkeley had three reported bank robberies. That year, about 67% of the robberies were pedestrian robberies, while 30% were commercial. There were also six carjackings and five home-invasion robberies. Of all the robberies, about 63% did not involve a weapon and about 19% involved a firearm.

So far this year, there have been at least 15 robberies in Berkeley through Jan. 21, according to, a repository for basic police data.

Robberies reported in Berkeley in 2020. Image: CrimeMapping

The BPD robbery detail can be reached at 510-981-5742.

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...