Three Berkeley Pokemon robbery attempts

Allison Levitsky (BCN_
Thursday August 11, 2016 - 11:49:00 AM

Three robberies involving people playing the popular "Pokemon Go" smartphone game have been reported in Berkeley in the past month, according to police. 

The most recent attempted robbery took place around 5:30 p.m. Monday in Civic Center Park at 2151 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The male victim was playing the game in the park when someone tried to snatch the phone from his hand, police said. 

After the victim struggled and successfully retained his phone, the suspect fled eastbound on Allston Way. He described the suspect as a black male between 15 and 16 years old who was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with black and white Air Jordan sneakers, according to police. 

A similar robbery was reported at 2:46 p.m. on July 31 in the area of Parking and Warring streets. Officers responded to a reported robbery in which the suspect jumped out of a waiting vehicle, punched the male victim and stole his phone from his hand. 

The victim described the suspect as a black male about 16 years old who was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt. The suspect ran to a waiting sedan and fled south on Warring Street. 

Berkeley police stopped the suspect vehicle a few miles away and made two arrests. 

A third recent Pokemon Go-related robbery was reported on July 12 at 9:15 p.m. Police received calls regarding a screaming woman in the 2300 block of Dana Street. 

Officers made contact with the victim, who said she had been walking east on Durant Avenue and had just finished playing the game when she cut through a parking lot on the south side of the street and noticed two men were following her. 

One of the two knocked her to the ground and attempted to take her phone, while the other pulled her purse off of her shoulder, police said. 

The victim described the suspects as two young "baby-faced" black men with slender builds who were wearing dark hooded sweatshirts. The two suspects fled north through the parking lot and got into a waiting SUV, which fled south on Dana Street, according to police. 

Police are advising residents to leave smartphones in their pocket while walking around, and to avoid playing Pokemon Go alone at night.