Southside sees a surge in robberies in January

Joy Chen/Staff

In the month of January, the area south of the UC Berkeley campus saw a “surprising and troubling” uptick in robberies compared to this month last year, according to a UCPD officer.

After only one robbery on Southside in January 2011, the area has experienced eight robberies, including attempted robberies, so far in 2012 — six of which occurred in the span of a week within four blocks of campus, according to UCPD.

UCPD spokesperson Lt. Eric Tejada said in an email that he could not provide an explanation for what he called the “surprising and troubling” jump.

Tejada said in the email that UCPD, in response to this increase in robberies, plans to increase patrolling in the area around the campus, with some officers monitoring in civilian clothes.

There were three robberies north of campus before classes began on Jan. 17, but since then, UCPD has responded to six robberies on Southside, possibly a result of an increased number of students in the area after the beginning of the semester.

The location of the six Southside robberies of January 2012 have stretched from Atherton Street to the west — a block past the Unit 3 Residence Halls — to Piedmont Avenue to the east.

While most of the robberies occurred in the late evenings and early mornings, a few occurred in the middle of the day. Around 4 p.m. on Jan. 24, a female student was followed into the Unit 1 loading dock area, bludgeoned in the back of the head and robbed of a few of her belongings, including her iPod, according to a UCPD crime alert.

Tejada said the best way to avoid robbers is to be constantly aware of one’s surroundings and recommended not walking alone or with earphones.

“The UC Berkeley campus situated is in an urban environment, and though campus areas are relatively safe, the campus is not immune to crime,” Tejada said in the email. “Your best defense is to adopt an attitude of awareness and to take precautions when you must walk alone.”

Jonathan Tam covers crime.