‘Everything was gone’: UC Berkeley student loses more than $3K in house burglary

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Berkeley Police Department has yet to identify a burglary suspect who allegedly stole thousands of dollars’ worth of property and cash from a UC Berkeley student.

The suspect entered campus junior Blair Gao’s room while she was sleeping and stole her laptop and a sizable amount of cash. Gao said she suffered total losses of $3,000 to $5,000.

The burglary occurred sometime between 9 p.m. Feb. 19 and 9:45 a.m. Feb. 20, according to BPD spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Frankel.

“When I woke up … everything was gone,” Gao said. “It’s not about money value for me. I’m a CS major, and I’ve been putting a lot of effort (into) working on that computer, and now everything is gone. (It’s like) someone kidnapped my kid.”

Gao said her house manager made sure all the doors to the house were locked at 2 a.m., but Gao’s bedroom door was left unlocked. There were no signs of forced entry, according to Frankel.

The investigation is ongoing and at this point no suspect has been identified, Frankel said.

Gao expressed her frustration with the process of identifying the suspect and recovering her property in a Facebook post.

“The cops were with me when the suspect turned on my laptop and I showed them the exact location from Find My Mac. Nothing happened,” Gao said in the post.

There are a few actions people can take to protect themselves from property theft, Frankel said. He advised students to lock their doors and windows and to record the serial numbers for their belongings, as this allows police officers to return stolen property more efficiently.

Gao advised that MacBook users set up the security tool FileVault to secure the data on their startup disks. The program allows only people with a laptop’s login information to read the data on that laptop’s disk, according to the Apple Support website. Gao also suggested that people create a firmware password, which prevents stolen laptops from being factory reset and sold.

Gao said she wanted to see both her case and those of other burglary victims resolved.

“As students, we should raise funds for victims of robbery,” Gao said. “Recovery items are expensive, and there’s something we can do to make a change right away.”

Contact Amanda Bradford at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @amandabrad_uc.