Cop impersonator accosts another teenage girl in Berkeley, asks for hug

The man claimed to have a knife and said he wanted a hug. Police say he did something similar in September to a girl on Gilman Street.

Police say a man who accosted two teenage girls in Berkeley was driving a red Ford Mustang Fastback in the most recent incident. Credit: BPD

Authorities in Berkeley are looking for a man pretending to be an armed police officer who has now cornered at least two high school girls, made threats and demanded physical contact.

BPD asks anyone with information to call the Sex Crimes Unit at 510-981-5735

The most recent incident took place Monday morning when the man asked a teenage girl if he could walk with her to school, the Berkeley Police Department said in a prepared statement. The man then confronted the girl “in a less visible part of the sidewalk,” claimed to have a knife and said he wanted a hug.

In late September, police believe the same man — who said he was a cop and claimed to have a gun — demanded a hug from a teenage girl on Gilman Street.

During Monday’s incident, police say the man approached the girl at 9:30 a.m. on McGee Avenue near Channing Way. He struck up a conversation, police said, then “told the girl he needed help finding his daughter” and said he wanted to walk the girl to Berkeley High School, several blocks away.

“When the girl refused, the man told her … that she should not be worried because he was a cop. The girl did not believe the man and she kept walking,” police said. “The man followed the girl and cornered her in a less visible part of the sidewalk (where there were many plants and trees). While there, the man told the girl that he wanted her to give him a hug and made a threat about having a knife.”

The girl was then able to walk away from the man and, when she got to Berkeley High, she reported what had happened, BPD said. School staff then alerted BPD.

Police said the assailant was described as a white man in his 30s about 5 feet 5 inches tall with facial hair. He wore a black beanie, a black gaiter mask, a black hooded sweatshirt and black sweatpants. He was seen with a newer model red Ford Mustang Fastback with a rear spoiler and dark-tinted windows, BPD said. A resident with a security camera caught the vehicle in the area.

Police have asked anyone with a security camera who lives in the neighborhood near Channing and McGee to review footage captured Monday between 9:15 and 9:45 a.m. for evidence that might help with the case.

After the first incident, in an effort to identify the assailant, police released security footage they said showed him walking in northwest Berkeley. That footage appears again below.

BPD asks anyone with information about these incidents to call the Sex Crimes Unit at 510-981-5735.

Emilie Raguso is Berkeleyside’s senior editor of news. Email: emilie@berkeleyside.org. Twitter: emraguso. Phone: 510-459-8325.