She was home alone on September 14 when she heard someone in her kitchen. Having moved to Berkeley this summer from Florida to start grad school, Heather Bloom had moved into an in-law unit near Ashby BART. Now it was broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon and, she says, she heard "rustling and scuffling." In that situation, others might have fled. Or locked themselves into a room and dialed 911. But "with a sense of disbelief," Bloom crept down the hall and peeped into the kitchen. A middle-aged man had climbed through a window she'd left open. "He saw me and said, 'Oh, my god.' I said, 'What are you doing here?' He said, 'I must have the wrong house. I was looking for Spencer.' I almost laughed. Spencer?"
Walking backward toward the window, he climbed back out. Bloom realized he'd swiped her cell phone. After she contacted the cops, they went straight to the nearby Ashby Flea Market to hunt for her phone among the merchandise. No luck. Bloom hadn't been in Berkeley long, but was quite familiar with Ashby Flea. She says her houseguest found his bike on sale there for $100 soon after it was swiped outside the Berkeley Bowl. And she says that when her neighbor brought a camera there, a market regular "looked her straight in the eye and said, 'You know what we do to people who take pictures around here? We kill them.'" Hearsay and anecdotes, yes. Flea-market management has contacted Apprehension to defend the market's reputation. But Bloom won't be back. The cops asked why she lived on Otis, "given that people are mugged around here in the middle of the day." She describes having been harassed and followed by four guys in a BMW; she hid from them in some bushes. "I moved here because this house is really beautiful, because there's a great sense of community between the Bowl and the Thai temple" — that is, Wat Mongkolratanaram, whose Sunday cookouts draw a crowd. "I came here thinking: Berkeley's such a wonderful place; the people are so environmentally conscious; it has a major research university. I really didn't think crime would be a major issue." Now she's thinking of fortifying her door with wood — "but that would be like medieval times."
The War on Teddy Bears
Previously, we reported an incident in which UCPD officers investigated a "suspicious circumstance regarding mutilated teddy bears" at Kroeber Hall. It was a case of vandalism, writes UC Berkeley student Nicholas Cienfuegos, who created the artwork for his sculpture class, against "a sculpture that used teddy bears as an analogy for childhood" and was "a metaphor for the war on children/childhood that is happening all over the world. Parts of the piece were reconstructions of Goya's war drawings and fact one section is a verbatim reconstruction." A metal frame to which teddies were affixed was knocked over and one of its limbs was broken. "The message was misunderstood by someone that didn't even bother to ask about the piece," Cienfuegos laments. "A message that was receiving a lot of attention and possibly raising public consciousness about a worldwide problem is now lost."
Just because UC Berkeley is prestigious doesn't mean its campus and surrounding blocks, even on Northside, are safe late at night. At 11:45 p.m. on October 5, a student was robbed at gunpoint by two tall African-American men wearing "very baggy jeans" just east of Giannini Hall. On October 9 at 12:06 p.m., a woman was robbed at gunpoint on LeRoy Avenue near Virginia Street. Ten minutes later, a man was robbed at gunpoint on Arch Street near Virginia Street. The suspects in both cases were twentysomething African-American men who swooped down on their victims in a "silver sports sedan with a spoiler," according to a UCPD bulletin.
Montclair Under Attack
A neighborhood-watch block captain is keeping track of recent thefts, and here's how it stacks up. September 16: Burton Drive; between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; front door broken; electronics, jewelry, and safe stolen, house ransacked. September 29: Chambers Drive; around 2 p.m.; front door kicked in; electronics stolen. Same day: Hemlock Lane; sometime during the day; locked sliding door forced open; electronics, jewelry, and safe stolen. October 1: Ridgewood Drive; daytime; homeowner's arrival interrupted burglars; guitar stolen. On September 27, two cars were burglarized on Hemlock. And we're heading into pre-holiday robbery season, so lock up tight.
Not a Treasure Hunt
You know you're in East Oakland when your casual Sunday morning stroll turns up 28 empty drug bags. On his neighborhood listserv, an Allendale resident reports: "2817 High St. — clear bag. 2801 High St. — clear bag. 2715 High St. — clear bag. High St. at Brookdale — 4 clear bags, 1 green bag. Brookdale Park, many by bench, clear with black Bat pattern, 7 clear bags, clear with Hershey chocolate pattern, clear with blue #1 pattern, 3 clear with green plant pattern. 3915 Nevil — clear bag, white bag with black Nike swoosh pattern. 3815 Nevil — clear with blue cougar pattern, green bag, clear with black Bat pattern. Nevil at 38th Ave — green with white Playboy bunny logo pattern 38th Ave. near Nevil — clear bag. Yes, I made sure my phone had a full battery charge then called the 238-DRUG hotline."