UC Berkeley students on alert following series of robberies

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Berkeley police are warning UC Berkeley students to take precaution for personal safety following a series of robberies. (KGO-TV)

Two weeks before the beginning of classes, students at UC Berkeley are being told to take precautions for personal safety.

On Monday night, two armed young men went on a crime spree, stealing cellphones just blocks away from campus, police say.

Berkeley police are just as surprised as anyone else. Five robberies in a span of two hours is highly unusual and 24 hours later students were told what to do.

One day after two men committed a series of robberies, Cal students received an alert from campus police with safety tips. "I got it yesterday at 4:55 p.m. It comes as a notification as an email and all my friends, we just read it on the spot," Cal student Leila Ramanculova said.

Berkeley police said the cellphone robberies were reported at 10:02, 10:15, 10:19, 10:30 and 11:41 in the evening.



"All five victims described, pretty much the same description was given for both suspects," Berkeley Police Department Sgt. Andrew Frankel said.

Both men were described as African-American, are in their teens or early 20s, wearing grey and black sweatshirts.

One of the crimes was reported on Benvenue Avenue and Derby streets and four minutes later, again on Channing Way and Dana Street.

Alicia Gallarzo lives nearby. She always carries mace. "Makes you aware of what's going on. I'm sure there are other places where they have issues like these, but it's important to keep the students aware of what's around them," she said.

UC Berkeley claims to be the number one public institution in the country, home of 22 Nobel laureates, but it also has a reputation for it's crime rate.

A recent Department of Education report found UC Berkeley among college campuses with the most reported robberies.

"If you are traveling at night, traveling in a group is always better. Maybe take that cellphone or smart device and put it in a pocket until you get where you're going, focus on your surroundings," Frankel said.

"We're planning on taking more advantage of the bus that comes at night because that's obviously a lot safer than just walking around campus at night," Cal student Shreya Bhattacharrya said.

Police are asking the public to find those responsible for the robberies.
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