Police are stepping up patrols on the UC Berkeley campus after a spike in robberies, some armed. NBC Bay Area's Monte Francis reports.
Police are stepping up patrols on the UC Berkeley campus after a spike in robberies.
There have been four armed robberies and one attempted robbery in less than a week. Thieves are targeting students late at night and taking cell phones and other electronics, sometimes at gunpoint.
Because it is finals week, many students are up late studying, which is a big reason campus police are urging students not to walk alone but to walk in groups instead.
And if students are being followed, police said they can also find Code Blue phones all over campus. Once students pick up the receiver, blue lights start flashing and they are immediately connected to campus police.
The most recent attack happened at about 2:45 a.m. Sunday in front of Dwinelle Hall when a robber tried to steal a female student’s purse.
She was able to break free, and the man took off running.
Early Saturday morning, UC Berkeley senior Robert Tang-Kong’s friend was mugged and beat up by two men while walking near Willard Park with a friend.
"Held up at gunpoint," Tang-Kong said. "He had a camera and tripod with him. He was going out stargazing, and they took everything he had."
While students are burning the midnight oil studying for exams, campus police said robbers are mostly targeting students walking home from the library late at night--and taking their backpacks, cell phones and laptops.
"It does tend to be the person walking alone, with their head down, not paying attention to their surroundings," UC Berkeley Police Officer Christa Manchester said.
But that is not always the case.
"I mean he was taken down with a buddy, so if there’s a gun, numbers don’t matter too much," Tang-Kong said.
Tang-Kong said his friend suffered bruises, but no broken bones. The attack has taken a psychological toll on his whole group of friends.
"We’re entirely less likely to stay out late now--at least I am personally," Tang-Kong said.
Another UC Berkeley senior, Amy Zhang, said the added stress is the last thing she needs during finals week.
"I mean it’s scary because the library is open 24 hours, and it’s finals week," she said. "And it’s always terrifying to think you’re not safe on campus, especially when you’ve got a lot of other things on your mind."