Berkeley police go undercover to catch laptop thieves
BERKELEY, Calif. - Berkeley officers arrested six people in an undercover operation set up to combat a recent rash of laptop thefts in cafes, police said today.
Suspects allegedly stole laptops from patrons in Caffe Strada at 2300 College Ave. around 8 p.m. Saturday, unaware that several undercover officers were watching, according to police. The laptops were swiftly recovered, police said.
The case began when a car with six people pulled up outside the cafe and four men got out and walked into the cafT. Two of them grabbed two laptops, police said.
As the four sprinted to the getaway car, one of the victims chased them, but the car pulled away. Quickly, the undercover officers called reinforcements.
The responding officers stopped the getaway vehicle on College Avenue near Russell Street, recovering the two laptops that had just been stolen and additional stolen property, according to police.
Three adults and three youth were arrested and booked on suspicion of crimes including strong-armed robbery, grand theft person, possession of stolen property and probation violations, police said. Five of the six were on some form of probation, according to police.
Police say that crimes like this one have become a common occurrence in Berkeley, and they're advising residents to keep an eye on their belongings and their surroundings to avoid being robbed.
In one case on Jan. 31, four suspects allegedly stole multiple laptops in a "snatch and grab" robbery in the 2300 block of College Avenue around 8:30 p.m., according to police.
Similarly to this case, the suspects grabbed the laptops and fled in an older four-door sedan, police said.
The undercover operations will continue until the laptop thefts abate, police said.