Friday, April 18, 2008

Two Berkeley Home-Improvement Store Takeover Robberies in Two Days

By Anneli Star Josselin Rufus
Fri, Apr 18, 2008 at 9:34 AM

Due to a rash of East Bay restaurant robberies, some people now say it isn't safe to dine out anymore. What else isn't it safe to do anymore? Shop for home-improvement supplies, perhaps. Two home-improvement emporia on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley have been the scene of late-afternoon armed takeover robberies within two days.

On April 15 at around 3 p.m., according to the daily police log, an African-American man wearing a black ski mask and wielding a black revolver entered the Famous Foam Factory, demanded cash, and fled with his takings.

Then on April 16 at around 4:30 p.m. — shortly before closing — the owner of Ecohome Improvement was behind the business' front counter "when a male suspect walked through the automated glass door, pulling a black ski mask down over his face as he entered," says Berkeley Police Sergeant Mary Kusmiss, recounting the victim's description of the incident.

"The suspect had a black revolver in one hand and yelled at her, [demanding] ‘all your money.' She complied. The suspect then asked if they had a safe; then, swearing at her and calling her names, the suspect tried to order her and a male customer toward the back of the store."At that point, as she later told police, the store owner"thought she was going to die," Kusmiss says.

So she ran, terrified, out the store's rear door. The customer followed suit. The robber did not pursue them, but escaped out the front entrance with between $300 and $500.

How badly do you need that new carpeting?

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