by Anneli Rufus
Quick-acting cops have made the town safer yet again with a recent round of arrests.
Auto burglaries — that is, thieves breaking into parked cars and stealing items from inside them — are Berkeley's most common crime, by far. Certain areas — for example, the streets flanking North Berkeley's Rose Garden and Codornices Park — are chronically popular targets. According to an email just received from BPD Officer Casimiro Pierantoni, a string of recent arrests might put a dent in this ongoing problem.
"One of the first things I do when I start my work week is review all the incidents that occurred the previous week," writes Pierantoni, who is the Area Coordinator for much of North Berkeley. "Auto burglary is a constant issue for us ... but the 11 auto burglaries we had in Beats 1 and 2 since Monday the 13th (with more than half happening in just a three-day period) caught my attention. Before that information had a chance to sink in, I saw an entry in one of our overnight Patrol sergeant’s logs that described an incident that led to the arrests of three auto burglary suspects. ...
"I’m sorry for not having all the details of this case, but it is so recent that I have not yet been routed a copy of the report. This is what I know:
"In the very early morning of Sunday the 19th, at 1:30 am, an alert community member saw three males on the 1500 block of Arch Street looking into parked vehicles with flashlights. Suspecting almost instantly that the subjects were most likely casing for auto burglary, the community member made an immediate call to B.P.D. to report the activity.
"When the call was initially broadcast, the on-duty Patrol watch commander, knowing that there had been a rash of auto burglaries in the area in recent days, ordered all available officers to respond to the call. The first officer was on scene within two minutes of the call being broadcast.
"Within three minutes after officers arrived on scene, three possible suspects were located and detained near the intersection of Arch Street and Hearst Street. The community member that had originally made the report was brought to the detention scene to determine if he could identify the subjects as those he saw casing for auto burglary. He said the subjects detained looked very similar but he was unable to make a fully positive identification. Even though the subjects, all juveniles, could not be arrested for any crimes related to the casing that was witnessed, they were all found to be under the influence of alcohol (one had a bottle of vodka in his possession) and were arrested for being intoxicated in public. All three subjects were transported to the Public Safety Building for processing.
"During a search incident to arrest, it was discovered that one of the juveniles was in possession of a cell phone that was obviously not his. All three juveniles were advised of their Miranda Rights and agreed to give statements. All three admitted to committing numerous auto burglaries the previous nights. With the permission of the juveniles’ parents, the juveniles pointed out the locations of the auto burglaries they had committed previously. Five of the seven most recent Area 1 auto burglaries were connected to the juveniles. Our Property Crimes Unit and Youth Services Division are continuing work on this case.
"This is another example of the positive results we see when we combine a call from an alert community member with a fast and focused response by dedicated police personnel. Let’s continue to work together so I will have the opportunity to share more stories like this," Pierantoni urges.
So maybe what America's Most Wanted host John Walsh says at the end of every week's program is true: You CAN make a difference.