Police Blotter

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday March 27, 2007

Berkeley’s robbery rash still soaring 

Berkeley’s ongoing spate of robberies continues, according to police reports—an epidemic that has seen a rash of heists hitting targets of convenience. 

Robbers have been partial to victims with electronic gear, police say, especially those small but costly digital music players of which Apple’s iPod is the best known. 

The highest numbers logged on the Berkeley Police Department’s Community Crime View website came on the 14th, when seven robberies were reported. 

Five stick-ups were on the 12th, one on the 15th, three on the 16th, one each on the 17th and 18th, two on the 19th, three on the 20th and two on the 21st, the last date for which information was posted. 

Police report 70 robberies had occurred in January and February, compared to 47 in the same two-month period last year. 

The crime spree accelerated in March, and by the 21st had reached an average of two a day, with exactly 42 robberies logged on the web site for the first three weeks of the month.  

The March total to that date brings the yearly total to 112, and most of the crimes are concentrated on or near the city’s thoroughfares. 

Earlier this month police cautioned Berkeley residents to record serial numbers of their valuables, engrave identification numbers on expensive high-tech devices and make certain all their gear is registered with manufacturers so serial numbers can be linked with legal owners. 

Police departments typically encourage citizens to mark gear with their driver’s license number. Social Security numbers shouldn’t be used because they are not generally accessible to law enforcement. 

Berkeley police have also cautioned iPod owners to switch from the distinctive white ear pieces sold with the iPod, because they alert robbers to the presence of the gear. 

“Use old-style headphones that appear to be from low-cost or other equipment,” warned the department in a public notice issued earlier this month.