A resident walking in the Berkeley Hills on Tuesday morning was confronted by two men with a sawed-off shotgun who stole his cellphone and wallet as he walked home with groceries, authorities report.
The robbers jumped into a getaway car and left, but a Berkeley police officer on patrol spotted them driving on San Pablo Avenue, BPD said Thursday in response to a Berkeleyside inquiry. Police arrested two of the culprits when they pulled into a local car wash, but a third hopped a fence and got away.
On Wednesday, the Alameda County district attorney’s office filed armed robbery charges in the case, according to court papers.
The robbery took place in the 2300 block of Glen Avenue, east of Spruce Street, just after 7:15 a.m. Tuesday. The local resident, who is in his 50s, was walking home with groceries when he “noticed a vehicle slowly pull in front of him,” BPD said in a prepared statement.
Then, a man with a sawed-off shotgun got out of the car, a brown Toyota Camry, and demanded the resident’s cellphone and wallet, according to court papers. A second man also got out of the car and began going through the resident’s bag of groceries, police said.
After taking the iPhone and wallet, the robbers got into the Camry and left, police said. The man was then able to get home to report the robbery to BPD.
About 10 minutes later, after some officers had responded to the robbery scene, “an officer patrolling northwest Berkeley spotted the suspect vehicle driving north on San Pablo Avenue, just across the Berkeley/Albany border,” BPD said.
“When the officer began following the suspect vehicle, it quickly turned into the Kaady Car Wash parking lot” in Albany.
The officer followed the driver into the parking lot. As he did, one of the men jumped out and hopped a fence, BPD said, leaving a man and woman still inside the Camry.
Additional officers responded to search for the man who ran away while the initial officer detained the pair who had stayed, BPD said.
Police who searched the remaining man — identified as 28-year-old Miguel Conchola-Torres (no address) — found him in possession of a “shaved key,” according to BPD, which police said are “often used in auto thefts.”
In the woman’s backpack, BPD said, officers discovered the stolen cellphone. Inside the Camry, officers found the resident’s stolen wallet “as well as a modified shotgun that was hidden in the center console area.”
This week, the DA’s office charged Conchola-Torres with robbery, being armed during the commission of a felony and being a felon or addict in possession of a firearm, BPD said. Authorities also charged 27-year-old Jesus Valadez (no address) with armed robbery, according to court papers.
Conchola-Torres has a felony conviction from 2017 in Sonoma County for receiving stolen property identified as a motor vehicle, according to court papers.
The woman, a 28-year-old from Richmond, was charged with receiving stolen property, which is a misdemeanor.
As of Thursday, Conchola-Torres remained in custody at Santa Rita Jail. He is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Nov. 16. No bail amount was listed as of publication time.
Valadez was not in custody.