A series of bold burglaries in West Berkeley has spurred police and residents to promote extra caution and vigilance in the neighborhood.
Berkeley police officer Cesar Melero told around 70 attendees of a neighborhood watch meeting Monday that there have been 20 burglaries in Southwest Berkeley since Jan. 15. The spike affects an area spanning the mile-and-a-half between Ashby and University avenues and the half-mile between San Pablo Avenue and Sacramento Street.
Police said an "unusually high" number of crimes has included kicking down doors, prying open windows and taking laptops and other valuables, the Berkeley Voice reports. Most of the burglaries are occurring between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., police said. Often the burglars are teenagers, and are ringing the doorbell of a home first before going around the back and breaking in if they get no answer.
Despite a number of arrests, including two teenage boys, the burglaries continue to occur, police said. The culprits also seem particularly brazen, ignoring the usual deterrents such as burglar alarms and dogs.
An average of 67 burglaries per month occurred in Berkeley last year, police said, and around half of all home burglaries are committed when a door or window is left open.
HELP PREVENT BURGLARY
The advice from the Berkeley Police Department is to be a vigilant neighbor and call the police at the first sign of any suspicious activity, such as unfamiliar people hanging around the street, ringing doorbells, or jumping over fences.
"Close your windows, close your doors, if you see something suspicious, please call us," Melero said. "Leave your lights on. Leave a radio on. If you don't know who it is at the door, don't open it."
For all non-emergencies, reporting suspicious activity or making an initial report, call the Berkeley Police Department's non-emergency number at (510) 981-5900.
Are you sticking together with your neighbors to help prevent crime? Have you been a victim of burglary? Share your experience and thoughts in the comments.