BPD responds to spree of robberies Wednesday night

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Update 11/10/16: This article has been updated to reflect further information from a Berkeley Police Department crime alert.

The Berkeley Police Department has deployed additional foot patrol officers in response to a spree of robberies Wednesday night they believe are related, according to a Nixle alert released Thursday afternoon.

BPD heard a report from the 2700 block of Milvia Street that at 9:12 p.m. a man allegedly attempted to grab a victim’s wallet before the victim fled into a neighboring business. Shortly after, on the 1600 block of Berkeley Way, the alert alleged that a male suspect grabbed a different victim’s cellphone while two female suspects punched the victim in the face.

A third victim, UC Berkeley sophomore Chanakya Varma, said he was walking and talking on his cellphone about 9:20 p.m. near 1730 Spruce St. when three Black teenagers— one male and two female — allegedly approached him and demanded his cellphone.

The suspects in the third robbery were described as a 5-foot-10 Black male teenager and two Black female teenagers between 5 feet and 3 inches and 5 feet and 4 inches in height, according to BPD spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Frankel.

Varma said he attempted to flee but alleged that the male teenager caught him by the shoulder and pinned him to the ground. Varma alleged that the male and one female suspect punched him and took his backpack and cellphone then fled in a long, white station wagon with a boxy trunk driven by a fourth waiting suspect. 

Frankel could not confirm details on a possible getaway vehicle or accomplice.

Similar descriptions of the suspects in two of the three cases and their geographical proximity led BPD to believe the robberies are related, the alert said. BPD urged those walking at night to keep cellphones hidden and travel in well-lit, populated areas when possible.

BPD is asking those with information on the incidents to call BPD Robbery Detail at 510-981-5742.

Alexander Barreira is the university news editor. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @abarreira_dc.