Berkeley Police Department and UCPD officers reported they will be taking precautions and advised Berkeley residents to do the same following an increase in smash-and-grab auto burglaries in the last month in the city and the areas surrounding campus.
Three auto burglaries were reported in the Witter Field parking lot on Sunday afternoon and another string of auto burglaries took place between the Strawberry Canyon parking lot and the UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science last week.
According to a UCPD crime log, the burglaries near the campus UC Botanical Garden and Lawrence Hall of Science all involved smashed car windows and took place between the hours of 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Items such as purses and laptop computers were stolen from the vehicles.
This is not the first time the city has dealt with auto burglaries, according to Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.
“Auto burglaries and theft continue to be an ongoing challenge for the City of Berkeley community,” Kusmiss said in an email. “The City of Berkeley experiences thefts from unlocked autos and auto burglaries (in which a suspect or suspects breaks into a car by smashing a window, lock break, lock punch, lock cheat ) on an average of 60-110 cases a month.”
According to a press release sent Wednesday by Kusmiss, officers investigated and documented 20 auto burglaries throughout the city earlier this week.
Paul Licht, director of the garden, agreed the city is no stranger to burglary but said that the garden is telling patrons to be more vigilant given it doesn’t have a high amount of control over the parking lots.
“You live in an urban area, you are going to get robbed sooner or later. It happens,” Licht said. “We are on alert now to report any suspicious people. We are going to have more prominent signage saying ‘Please be vigilant and do not leave valuables in sight.’”
Melissa Rydman, visitor services supervisor at the Lawrence Hall of Science, said the hall is also taking similar precautions in regard to the burglaries.
“We have (community service officers) who do patrol and we have staff who walk through the hall regularly,” Rydman said. “We have sent emails to staff about the burglaries and are asking them to keep an eye out if they see any broken glass on the sidewalks. We also have signs posted around the hall warning visitors about the burglaries.”
In a UCPD crime alert, the department recommends that residents take individual precautions by making a copy of their registration and insurance to carry at all times, to take note of any emergency payphones in close proximity to their parked cars and to report any suspicious activity or individuals to UCPD immediately when residents feel safe.
Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regard to the readers, writers and contributors of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Click here to read the full comment policy.