Possible armed robbery trend concerns campus, police

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Three armed robberies have been attempted on or near the UC Berkeley campus in the last two weeks — two of which were successful — reflecting a growth in robberies in the area over the last five years.

The first robbery took place near the Rochdale co-op July 30 about 3 a.m., the second robbery occurred outside of Haas Pavilion on Friday morning about 12:30 a.m., and the third robbery was attempted on the Grinnell Pathway near Alumni House on Sunday night about 11:50 p.m.

“I don’t know if that’s a trend yet,” said UCPD spokesperson Lt. Marc DeCoulode. “Crime has been down, but hopefully these (on campus) are two isolated incidents.”

A tentative crime report for the UC Berkeley campus area found that 37 robberies have occurred from January to July. 27 were armed robberies, according to Claudia Phillips-Archer, Clery Act compliance coordinator for UCPD, who maintains crime statistics for the campus.

Robberies in the campus area increased from 37 in 2011 to 58 in 2013, according to the UC Berkeley 2014 Annual Security Report. DeCoulode said that much of the increase was in off-campus incidents, where the Berkeley Police Department has jurisdiction.

We see the increase, and we devote some resources, but ultimately the city has to deal with it,” DeCoulode said. “We can’t force BPD to allocate resources to the south of campus.”

BPD declined to comment on DeCoulode’s statement, but BPD spokesperson Officer Jennifer Coats said, “We know that in general, we do see a lot of robberies up near the south of campus.”

“We work closely with UC. We try to allocate the resources that we can,” Coats said. “We have recently revised our beat system to meet the workloads in the different areas of the town.”

According to Coats, pedestrian robberies in Berkeley overall have seen a reduction from 362 in 2009 to 217 in 2014. But Coats said that for Southside and student areas, “it wouldn’t be uncommon for those numbers to be higher than other areas in Berkeley.”

In the co-op incident, the victim, a 20-year old male, was passed near the entrance to the Rochdale co-op by a man who then ran at him from behind, according to Coats. After the victim turned around, the suspect struck him on the head with a gun.

According to the victim, the man fled with the victim’s belongings after people at the co-op came to help. The suspect was described by the victim as a black male, roughly 5-foot-10 with a goatee and short hair. He was wearing dark clothing and escaped the scene in a silver BMW.

“We’ll try to increase patrols in the area,” DeCoulode said. He noted that these robberies were unusual because the suspects appeared to be armed.

These armed robberies come after multiple window-smashing incidents on the UC Berkeley campus, including an incident in which nine offices were burglarized at Evans Hall and computers were taken. A UCPD alert noted that office burglaries have been on the rise, with reported incidents at North Gate, Dwinelle, Cory, Wellman and Moses halls and the Haas School of Business.

Police advise people to not walk alone at night unless absolutely necessary and to use BearWALK, which can provide a community service officer to escort people home.

Contact Austin Weinstein at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @aweinstein5.