Engaging Targets 

Someone's stealing sunglasses and flowers, bongo drums raise hell in Piedmont, and state-of-the-art weaponry awaits action in Alameda.

What better way to fight crime than with a Bofors 57mm gun? It can fire 220 rounds a minute at a range of up to nine miles and can engage targets within seconds, even under extreme weather conditions. Its ammunition contains finger-size radars that can be programmed to fire in six different modes so as to detonate at different speeds and distances after leaving the gun. Once airborne, the rounds accelerate to over 3,000 mph. It's part of the avant-garde unprecedented weapons systems aboard the 418-foot USCG Bertholf, the first-ever National Security Cutter and new US Coast Guard flagship, newly arrived this month in its home port, Alameda. Commissioning the ship in Alameda on August 4, US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff declared it "one of the most advanced military vessels in the world." Along with the Swedish-designed Bofors, an on-board flight deck and helicopter hangar allow for increased launch-and-recovery operations farther from shore than ever. Other features let crew screen suspect vessels more quickly and safely than ever, according to a US Homeland Security dispatch, as well as detect and defend against chemical, biological, and radiological attack. "Just as the multiple maritime and military roles of the US Coast Guard have grown in scope and significance since the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, so too have the NSC's capability requirements evolved to be responsive to today's ever-more challenging operational missions and threats," reads a USCG bulletin.

Speaking of Shorelines

This month, the Contra Costa County's Sheriff's Office became the first on the West Coast to purchase the Underwater Inspection System developed by the UK-based Coda Octopus Group, Inc. Utilizing real-time 3D acoustic-imaging sonar technology, the "Echoscope" within the system identifies and classifies submerged objects, facilitating quick and effective searches of shorelines and waterways — such as the San Pablo and San Francisco bays. "Able to ensonify 3D volumes up to 50 x 50 degrees at ranges of up to 200m," the Echoscope "generates instantaneous 3D imagery comprising over 16,000 focused beams ... with a range resolution of 1cm" and "up to 20 updates per second," reads a Coda Octopus product promo. Take that, ill-intentioned frogmen!

Bringer of Light

Is it a twisted Rockridge Robin Hood, a bizarre new brand of treasure hunt, or slightly meshuga malfeasance? One resident reported to her neighborhood-group on August 11 that whoever had rifled through her husband's car the night before "took some $1.50 in loose parking change, and they made an exchange — they took his flashlight, and they left a different flashlight. The flashlight they left is smaller, but is waterproof, so we may even be ahead on the swap." A neighbor responds that her car too was rifled through, and oddly enough "they took a small flashlight from the glove compartment and left us a bigger, maybe better, one. They also left us a very nice 7-disc CD set: How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition. We certainly have a lot more we could learn about classical music, and the course looks interesting." Could this be related to a case listed in the August 8 Piedmont police log? A resident "reported catching a subject wearing a hood breaking into vehicle. Blanket and flashlight stolen. Subject found attempting to hide." In Sherwood Forest?

Criminals Drive Cars

Specs at Emeryville's Sun Shades Optique can run well upwards of $100 a pair. So the four shoplifters who recently entered the Bay Street store together and fled with 22 pairs, as recorded by Emeryville PD, are now either rolling in illicit resale profits or enjoying premium UV protection. The store clerk had to leap out of the way in order to avoid being hit by the getaway vehicle. Also according to EPD, another E-ville offender handed a clerk $5 "to purchase a drink" at Subway Sandwiches, then jumped the counter and seized $48 from the register. Athletic, yes. And so very much richer. He too fled in a vehicle.

You Know How It Is

Sometimes you just need emollients and bouquets so damn bad. According to Berkeley police reports, a man was arrested at Whole Foods Market on August 7 for snatching $398.20 worth of oils and related products. Also according to BPD, on August 9 a twentysomething couple ran off with $180 worth of roses from Ana Flowers & Gifts (your Gilman Street headquarters for color-coordinated corsages and boutonnieres). They escaped. But wouldn't it be cool to know what they'd say when asked in the jailyard: "What're you in for?"

Hi, Friend

A Walnut Creeker called the cops on August 2 to report that a Hispanic man had entered his home and knocked out his teeth with a rifle. "Through a Spanish translator," reads the report, it was established that the "victim was struck in the face with the shotgun handle. The suspect is the victim's friend." Three days later, someone called WCPD to report "an elderly female in her wheelchair on the sidewalk without her clothes on." Well, yeah! Officers determined that the woman had been "skinny-dipping in [a] neighbor's pool" and rode her Lark three-wheel scooter home.

Perturbed in Piedmont

A Piedmonter called the cops on August 4 to report someone "urinating on a blue mailbox." On August 7, a caller "reported neighbors writing dog's name in cement." At 4:03 a.m. on August 8, a caller "reported waking up to [the] sound of someone playing bongo drums." After a visit from officers, the predawn percussionist "ceased playing."

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