After a UCPD crime report alerted students to a magazine sale that led to an on-campus robbery last week, more students have come forward with stories of aggressive magazine salespeople on Sproul Plaza.
The campus police department is investigating an alleged robbery that occurred Sept. 10 when a 20-year-old female student was approached on Lower Sproul Plaza by a male who asked her to buy a magazine subscription. When the victim declined, the male and two accomplices threatened her, and the suspect walked her to an ATM in the Golden Bear Cafe where she withdrew $400 in cash, which he took, according to UCPD Capt. Margo Bennett.
The suspect is described in the UCPD crime alert as a white male in his early 20s with a thin build and short hair. There are no descriptions of the two accomplices.
According to a UCPD crime alert released Wednesday, a second robbery occurred on Sept. 10 when at around 4:50 pm a 21-year-old female student was approached by a man who identified himself as “Kody” and was also selling magazine subscriptions.
The man allegedly attempted to verbally pressure the victim into buying subscriptions. The victim declined but, due to hand gestures made by the man, she feared that she would be physically harmed if she tried to walk away without giving the suspect money, the alert said.
Similar to the first alleged robbery, the man walked the victim to the ATM in the Golden Bear Cafe, and the victim withdrew cash for the man, according to the alert.
Now, multiple other students have come forward reporting experiences with magazine salespeople with similar descriptions and sales pitches on the plaza.
On Sept. 7 at around 5:30 p.m., UC Berkeley sophomore Michelle Moezpoor was approached by a short, thin “older-looking blonde guy” who told her he was selling magazines to win a trip to Amsterdam, Moezpoor said in an email. After Moezpoor told him she did not have money, the man asked her repeatedly to go to the ATM with him, according to Moezpoor.
A few minutes later, a tall black man who appeared to be in his early 20s approached her with the same introduction and also asked her to go to an ATM with him, Moezpoor said. This time, she gave the man a few dollars instead of buying a subscription.
UC Berkeley sophomore Ashling Quigley echoed a similar experience. In an email, Quigley said she was approached last week on Lower Sproul by someone — described as a white man of average height with medium-length blond hair — selling magazine subscriptions and who said he was going to use the money for a trip to Amsterdam. When she said she did not have her wallet, the man tried to convince her to go get it and bring it back, according to Quigley.
“He was aggressive in soliciting,” said Bennett. “She wanted to cancel (the subscription), and he told her that she would be essentially stealing from him.”
UCPD is actively investigating the case and has leads on the suspect’s identity, Bennett said. There is no indication that the suspect or the two accomplices are students or have permission to sell on campus, Bennett added.
Chloe Hunt covers crime. Contact her at [email protected].