Oil and Water 

Richmond Refinery snapper eludes capture, mystery funds materialize in Albany, and projectiles plague the greater East Bay.

Capable of refining 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day, Chevron's 2,900-acre Richmond Refinery is the Bay Area's biggest. It's not pretty. Nor is the big ol' black-hulled, Chevron-flagged tanker Colorado Voyager, which was moored there late last month. So fishiness was afoot when a contract security guard working aboard the Voyager was caught in illegal possession of a camera. It was seized and its film removed. But "while being detained, the subject escaped and fled the scene," reads a report from the East Bay Terrorism Early Warning Group (EastBayTEWG.org). The two-year-old joint venture involving Alameda and Contra Costa county law enforcement is one of many such groups forming nationwide. In an outreach program launched this week, the venture's 250 Terrorism Liaison Officers introduced themselves to local owners of the types of businesses typically linked with terrorist activities: hotels, motels, scuba shops, and vehicle-rental and self-storage outfits. "If business owners know their local TLOs personally, they'll feel more comfortable calling us if they see anything suspicious," duty officer Kelly Wilson says. "We want that face-to-face contact."

We all should have such problems: A woman summoned Albany police on June 28 to report that "someone is putting money into her bank account without her permission."

Hurlers run amok: On June 25, a man wearing sunglasses threw eggs at passersby on Walnut Creek's North Main Street while simultaneously, across town on Creekside Drive, four male juveniles pitched rocks at cars. Two days later, eggers raised Cain at Ygnacio Valley and Oak Grove roads as their Albany counterparts barraged cars on San Pablo Avenue. Late that night, several suspects pelted pedestrians with lemons at Colusa and Solano in Berkeley. The next day, the Ygnacio/Oak Grove gang was at it again while, across town on Locust Street, water balloons and eggs rained on pedestrians from a third-floor window. The next day, a white Volvo cruised Ygnacio Valley Road, its occupants flinging lit fireworks at passersby. All suspects eluded capture. Starving children were deprived of eggs and vitamin-C-rich lemons.

Unlocked and loaded: Filing down major-make car keys and blanks bought at hardware stores, thieves create "shaved keys" to open and start stolen vehicles. At Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Canyon Drive last month, Kensington cops arrested the driver of a car that contained speed, pot, burglary and smoking tools, and beaucoup shaved keys. Sherrin Farley, inventory manager at Berkeley Ace Hardware and former owner of Kensington's Arlington Hardware, had never heard of shaved keys or questioned the motives of customers buying blanks — until now. Back at Arlington, she used to dispense miscut keys free for the asking, "because kids love to play with keys."

House play: The recent capture — in Missouri, in a Hummer — of "open-house bandits" Paul McClung and Carol Ann Chapman, who robbed Berkeley real-estate agents and homeowners while pretending to consider buying houses, didn't end troubles in Realtorville. Another pair has been preying on local brokers. Two well-dressed, youngish African-American men visit real-estate offices saying they're house shopping. While an agent shows them listings in a conference room, one man takes a bathroom break, then returns to complete the consultation. Only after the pair departs are purses and wallets discovered missing. The OPD urges all witnesses to file reports.

Speaking of Missouri: Written with a pen, the name and address on the envelope a UC Berkeley employee received at her Hearst Avenue office on June 25 were indeed hers. Inside, she found an ordinary birthday card printed with the message: Celebrating You. Happy Birthday. It was signed — again, by hand — "David." Yet the recipient knows no Davids well enough to receive cards from them. The return address was in Columbia, Missouri. Knowing no one there, the recipient summoned UC police. Years ago, she was a victim of identity theft. Did her thief so endear someone named David that he still remembers what he thinks is her special day?

Deadly days: July 2 and 3 were some of the busiest days ever for Alameda County Coroner's Office staff as eight new homicide victims underwent autopsies: three slain in Oakland on Saturday, another three in Oakland on Sunday, one in Hayward on Thursday, and another in Hayward on Sunday.

Worrisome words, and birds: Medicine supplied by a nurse practitioner at UC Berkeley's Tang Center upset the stomach of a 32-year-old Cal student, the recipient of a highly competitive academic fellowship. When he returned on June 22 to make another appointment, the student was still so furious at the nurse about his gastric distress that he told a clerk, "I would like to stalk her for the rest of her life." UC police logged it as a threat. In an unrelated case a week later, Walnut Creek cops aided a resident claiming to have received veiled threats via phone about "a civil matter that occurred ten years ago, regarding birds."


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