A Berkeley woman has been charged with felony vandalism for allegedly puncturing the tires of dozens of vehicles in a crime spree in Berkeley and Oakland last week, Berkeley police said today.
Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said 33-year-old Mandisa Monroe was arrested at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday near her home in the area of the Berkeley-Oakland border, which is where all the vandalism occurred.
Police learned of the vandalism at about 7 a.m. on Aug. 31 after a community member reported that one of her car's tires had been slashed or punctured.
Kusmiss said a total of 74 vehicles were vandalized -- 61 in Berkeley and 13 in an adjacent area of North Oakland.
Most of the vandalism involved punctured tires, but some vehicles had Egyptian phrases spray-painted on them, Kusmiss said.
She said police aren't sure what instrument was used to puncture the tires but believe that it was a small pocketknife or an ice pick.
Kusmiss said the vandalism spree occurred on California Street from 62nd Street to Blake Street; the 1600 block of Russell Street; several blocks of King Street; and Alcatraz Avenue in Oakland.
She said Berkeley police obtained a warrant to search Monroe's home and found items that connected her to the crimes, including spray paint and a head wrap they believe she wore while vandalizing the vehicles.
Kusmiss said police also obtained surveillance tapes from homes in the area where the crimes occurred that they believe show Monroe committing one of the crimes.
Kusmiss said Monroe denied puncturing the tires but gave an explanation of the Egyptian phrases that had been tagged onto some of the cars. The phrases weren't threatening, Kusmiss said.
Monroe didn't discuss a motive for the vandalism, Kusmiss said.
She said Berkeley police are familiar with Monroe because an officer had previously responded to a report that she was spray-painting a fence.
Kusmiss said it turned out that Monroe was spray-painting a fence on her own property, which was legal, but the officer who responded didn't know that at the time. She said the officer wound up arresting Monroe because she threw a can of spray paint at him.
However, the charges against Monroe eventually were dropped, Kusmiss said.
She said the victims of the vandalism spree last week "were understandably upset, angered, surprised and frustrated" by the crimes.