Telegraph Avenue vendor ‘Patches’ arrested for alleged sale of marijuana

Patches, a Telegraph street vendor, speaks to a potential customer at his stand.
Kevin Foote/Senior Staff
Patches, a Telegraph street vendor, speaks to a potential customer at his stand.

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Telegraph Avenue’s longtime staple Robert Meister was arrested Wednesday afternoon after a joint operation conducted by UCPD and Berkeley Police Department.

Police said they received an anonymous tip that a street vendor commonly known as “Patches” due to the colorful patches he sold was selling marijuana from a table on Telegraph Avenue and began investigating the allegations.

Using undercover police officers, UCPD and BPD conducted an undercover buy at Meister’s table on the 2400 block of Telegraph Avenue near Rasputin Music, said UCPD Lt. Eric Tejada.

Meister, 52, was later arrested for sale of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and possession of concentrated cannabis, according to the UCPD crime log.

Meister — who has been a vendor on Telegraph for roughly 20 years — said he makes his living selling patches. While he denied selling marijuana, Meister said he did have cookies on the table and that marijuana cookies are a safe alternative to hard drugs.

Tejada said they used undercover officers — as opposed to surveillance or other methods — to confirm that Meister was selling to students.

“We get a lot of complaints about drug activity in People’s Park and on (Telegraph Avenue),” Tejada said. “It was something we wanted to address.”

During the investigation, police found large quantities of marijuana and marijuana cookies at the stand. Tejada said they also found three pounds of marijuana and more than $10,000 in cash at Meister’s house in Richmond.

Telegraph Avenue vendors said that they typically have good relations with Berkeley Police Department but do not feel sympathy for Meister’s situation.

“Run your business, (and) don’t do illegal shit behind your display,” said Andrea Dick, a longtime Telegraph vendor who sells jewelry, among other items.

Kirby Koepke, a former Telegraph vendor, described Meister as a “fringe character” because he does not sell handmade items like other vendors and does not participate in the lottery vendors use to choose their designated spots along Telegraph Avenue.

“None of the students want (me arrested),” Meister said. “The students are on my side.”

In fact, many students expressed concern over news of Meister’s arrest and said they would like to see him return to Telegraph.

“Generations and generations of Cal alumni are familiar with him and his kind, humorous personality,” said UC Berkeley junior Marybeth Baluyot in an email.

Baluyot said she considered a initiating a campaign to publicize the incident and set up a donation to help Meister, including possibly giving out patches emblazoned with the slogan “Free Patches.”

“Getting charged with possession and sales will probably keep him away for a long time, and our goal is to keep this from happening,” Baluyot said.

Chloe Hunt covers crime. Contact her at [email protected].

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  • relieved resident

    omg! i live across the street from this guy and his cycle of tired songs he plays on repeat all day and sings along to inharmoniously. thank you UCPD!!!

  • Buckets the clown

    That night I went home to watch the news on DW. The In Focus feature was about Apple and Steve Jobs and the counter culture spirit of Berkeley that made it all happen and they used a picture of Bob to embody that spirit. A spirit the police and stupid laws like the proposed Measure S destroy.

  • q

    dude’s back out on the street. just saw him on sunday afternoon

  • wtf

    Who the **** is Svend La Rose ?

    • obvioustroll

      He is a plague

  • George Webber

    “Humorous personality”? Really, UC Berkeley junior Marybeth Baluyot? You think loud, verbally aggressive behavior bordering on quasi-racist, quasi-homophobic tirades is/are humorous? Yeah, he’s a real hoot, isn’t he? Like the time few years back when he called that homeless man a “nigger” because the guy asked him a question. Haha, that’s hilarious and really helps improve the situation here on Telegraph. But heck, Marybeth, you’re a big, smart college junior and know all about these things, right?

    The only people who like this guy are the kids using him for an easy pot connection and his wayward, misanthropic “friends” who sit behind his table with him and act cool. The rest of us wouldn’t miss his “humorous personality” too much if he were swept away into the gutter he sits over.

    This isn’t about getting rid of drugs as it is getting rid of a twenty year old malignant growth on Telegraph.

    • troy

      shut the fuck up and stop attacking some girl over the internet you coward. Weeds harmless, they should spend the money used for the investigation on catching real drug lords like the gangs that control crack market in the surrounding areas

      • George Webber

        Just relax.

  • Tru-ra-lu-ra-lu

    God God, that guy is such a creep.He doesn’t even have a vendor’s permit like all the others. Fuckin’ dick. He was whacked once by the son’s of another vendor years back; who knows, that may happen again just for the hell of it.

    • Headache

      Well shucks, I’ll whack him myself if he plays that horrid Sublime CD again. At the age of 52 you’d think (hope?) the guy would stop acting/dressing like a teenager and broaden his musical tastes a bit, especially if he feels the need to play that stuff so goddamn loud. Yes, he needs to go down.

  • Headache

    He was busted last year around this same time and was back within a few days. Lemme look out my window and check…yep, there he is, three days later back in the street. [yawn]

  • patchez

    “Free Patches” patches? Who’s selling them?

  • Andrew

    This guy has been selling pot to kids since I was in high school & that was quite awhile ago. He’s disgusting. He’s not at all “peace & love” — he’s simply a capitalist & he is LOADED with money!!! I have literally seen cash fall out of his camo pants pockets as he got into his car. Anyone who knows him knows that he’s a lifelong drug addict who contributes absolutely nothing to society. He is a self-serving, selfish man whose kids never had a decent shot at having a good life. Now he’s locked up just like his meth addict kid. Sack of shit. Talk to your kids about weed. If they’re gonna smoke it, at least ask them not to buy from this creepy fuck. He is straight trash. With the amount of $ he has made selling kids drugs, he’ll be back on the street, irritating the hell out of everyone with his Kermit doll, his radio & his ugly-ass patches.

    • sarcastic

      Yeah patches is such a 1%er capitalist

  • PorcelinaGrout

    all torn up about it … not.

  • 2012Grad

    Did the reporter ask the police what took them so long? I learned about Patches when I was a freshman, and his table was the most blatant a marijuana dealer could possibly be without a neon sign. If they’re actually serious about policing drug use, why take so long to do so? Claiming that they only did this now because students complained just means the police were either too incompetent to recognize that he was a dealer (which I have a very difficult time believing) or that they previously simply didn’t care (which needs to be explained).

    • 2012gradnaive

      And what exactly would probable cause for a search be? Looking like a hippie?

    • Scottyboy

      Next a raid on Berkeley Bowls Hemp granola…

  • Kbug

    Can we talk about the fact that you’re a blatant racist?

    • Guest

      Go through the UCPD police bulletins for the past five years, and tell me what the commonality is between 99% of the armed robberies, PC boy.

  • Jacob

    Anybody else disappointed to see that he commutes in from Richmond?

  • mr. magoo

    Now that Patches is gone some more sketch drug dealer is going to take over his turf and start flinging coke… at least patches kept to himself and apparently didn’t carry a gun.

  • totally unconvincing name

    to be fair, it’s easy to set up a sting after being tipped off that selling patches is a front for a drug operation, it’s much harder to anticipate the location and timing of the next strong-arm robbery

    • Guest

      not that hard to have a couple officers on foot patrol on southside, keeping tabs on any groups of young black males

      • weeee

        that’s great to hear you have $300,000 to hire 4 new cops to patrol. just drop the money off at the station tomorrow.

      • student

        yeah, it’s not hard to racially profile. because that shit actually happens all the time anyways.

  • Current student

    LOL, UCPD brings down the hammer on a white guy selling a little pot, but continues to do nothing about African-Americans robbing students at gun point.

    PC at it’s finest.

  • Patches4life

    Who would turn in Patches? :( Also dammit I didn’t know there were cookies now.

    • FreePatches!

      Broseidon, he has been peddling edibles for years.

  • yolo

    crack down on Marijuana dealers while armed thugs terrorize Berkeley students at night

  • Nunya Beeswax

    You know, I don’t care whether he’s selling pot or not. I just wish they’d make him shut that radio off.

  • Kbug


  • The pot ban is unconstitutional. I will file a writ petition on Patches’ behalf on Monday morning or as soon thereafter as I can be heard, seeking his immediate discharge from custody.

    • Svend

      what are your qualifications? a legal studies undergraduate? piss off

    • CH

      Please don’t do anything, you’ll probably do more harm than good.

    • anon

      A legal studies student that haven’t finished his degree yet? I guess that makes you an expert in law doesn’t it?

    • I_h8_disqus

      You are going to laugh so hard at your post once Patches brownies wear off.

    • obvioustroll

      God dammit I hate you so much. I think I should sick 4chan on you.