Hate crime—or not?
Confronted with the green spray of graffiti on the Dana Street sidewalk, Berkeley Police officers had to decide if they were looking at a hate crime.
“They decided to err on the side of caution,” said the department spokesperson, Officer Andrew J. Frankel.
The screed, spewed onto the concrete sometime before 9:30 p.m. Monday, declared: “Jews for Jew and Finen Jews.”
Officer Frankel said his colleagues, confronted with the penultimate word, couldn’t figure out what “finen” meant—leaving that mystery, as well as the sprayer’s identity, one of Berkeley’s unsolved mysteries.
Berkeley detectives are looking into three sex crimes reported in recent days.
At 8:18 p.m. Monday, a 31-year-old Berkeley woman told officers that moments before she had been groped by one of three young men near the corner of University Avenue and Sacramento Street, while a second fellow exposed himself.
She described two of the suspects as young men between the ages of 18 and 21, one wearing a cross hanging from a neck chain.
No arrests have been made.
Police are releasing few details about the second crime, currently under investigation by detectives, after the West Berkeley guardian of a minor girl told police Sunday evening that the young person had been molested by an uncle.
The guardian refused to offer details to the uniformed officers who responded to the call but did agree to talk to detectives, Officer Frankel said.
The case is currently under investigation.
The third incident was the reported rape of a woman at the Capri Motel on University Avenue. Officers responded to the early Sunday afternoon calls, but the department is withholding further information about the crime.
Berkeley investigators are also investigating a rash of recent robberies, including a possible pistol whipping and a beating.
The first attack came Monday night after a 28-year-old Berkeley man had already handed over his wallet, computer and backpack to the two bandits who accosted him in the 1700 block of Arch Street shortly before 8 p.m.
One of the pair had pulled a pistol and demanded the loot, which the man handed over only to be attacked. He told officers he wasn’t sure whether he had been struck with the pistol or a fist, and he declined medical treatment, said Officer Frankel.
The second robbery was a shoplifting that escalated into a physical encounter, raising a misdemeanor to a felony in the process.
The attendant at a gas station in the 900 block of University Avenue watched as a 28-year-old man made off with chips and soda, bypassing the cash register, on Sept. 24, and when he returned for a repeat perfformance the next day, the clerk confronted him and a struggle ensued—hence the robbery charge.
Police made an arrest, and the suspect was provided a temporary new home and accommodations in a secure location.
Two robberies happened minutes apart on Sept. 23, the first reported at 7:50 p.m. in the 2000 block of Milvia Street, where two teenagers braced a 24-year-old Berkeley man.
One patted the fellow down in search of valuables and at least one punch was thrown, but the victim managed to retain his possessions and the youthful felons absconded lootlessly.
Less than a half-hour later, two felons of similar description confronted a man getting in his car in the 2600 block of Hilgard Avenue. One of the pair produced a pistol, and after their victim handed over his possessions, the duo bounded away.
Police arrested a 32-year-old Berkeley man after he allegedly assaulted an officer who had responded to a report of screams, breaking glass and the sight of a blood-soaked man in the 1700 block of Buena Avenue on Sunday night.
Officer Frankel said Miguel Garcia was charged with battery on a police officer, interfering with an officer and parole violation.
Teenage bank bandits busted
Two boys, ages 13 and 14 and their 18-year-old companion were arrested by Berkeley Police on Friday after their were caught staking out a Shattuck Avenue bank.
According to a campus police department crime alert, Berkeley police officers were summoned to the Mechanics Bank branch at 2301 Shattuck Ave. after a caller reported suspicious persons lurking in the area.
Police arrived to find two people hiding in the bushes and a third “casing the bank.”
City and campus police gave chase when the trio bolted, nabbing two of them close to the bank and the third moments later hiding in a Durant Avenue garage,
Officers recovered a 12-inch knife, a fake firearm, a ski mask and a duffel bag, and the university police reported that the trio admitted they had been planning a bank heist.
All three were taken into custody.
It’s bad enough being jobless in a tanking economy; it’s even worse when your unemployment check is stolen.
That’s what happened to a 58-year-old Berkeley woman, a resident of the 1300 block of Hopkins Street.
Calling officers last Thursday morning, she said that the thief had purloined not only her unemployment benefits but also Federal Express and UPS packages.
“That’s just low,” said Officer Frankel.