Robbers hold up pedestrians around UC Berkeley

April 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Berkeley police believe the same people are behind a string of holdups just north of the Cal campus. Men with guns have robbed, or tried to rob, at least four people on the street just since last Thursday.

In Berkeley, there are as many people walking or jogging along the sidewalks at nighttime, as they are during the day. However, in the late evening is about the time when the armed robbers have been holding up people on the sidewalks.

In Berkeley, people are passionate about walking.

"What do people like about driving everywhere?" says Berkeley resident Umesh Vazirani.

They walk to work, they walk to the store, they walk everywhere, and they walk at all times of the day.

"Walking is a great way to free yourself from the hardships of the day," says Cris Corth.

Regardless, in the past four days several people have encountered the hardships of walking. Police believe the same two suspects have been robbing pedestrians at gunpoint in the area just north of the UC Berkeley campus.

"You know, I would say it's an eclectic mix of good, friendly people. Certainly a fair degree of affluence around here," says Berkeley resident Olaf Groth.

The first robbery happened last Thursday, around 10 p.m. near Walnut and Cedar Street, just around the corner from Berkeley's famed Gourmet Ghetto.

"Usually, it's always peaceful around here. Students, grandma, grandpa. It's really cool," says Gregoire Jaquet from the Gregoire Restaurant.

Then on Saturday evening, the sidewalk bandits struck along Euclid Avenue and Leconte. Then they did it again, 30 minutes later, at La Loma and Ridge Street.

"I think it's a hard economy right now. I think people feel stressed out," says Berkeley resident Meredith Denton.

And the early the next day, the suspects held up a victim at Euclid and Ridge Road.

When asked if Berkeley resident Yassi Eskandari looks over her shoulder or if she's vigilant, she replied she feels "Very comfortable. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I think it's pretty safe."

The rash of armed robberies has not stopped Berkeley residents from exercising their right of way, but police are cautioning them to be alert, put away their iPods and cell phones, and walk smart.

Both suspects are described as African-American men between 20 and 25-years-old. The first one is thin, 6'0" or 6'2" and he was wearing a black or red baseball cap. The second suspect is about 5'8" with a medium build wearing all dark clothing.