UPDATE: Police use fake date to snag home-invasion suspects

Berkeley police say a woman used a dating app to target the victim. Officers then set up a fake date with her to capture the culprits, BPD said.

UPDATE: Police use fake date to snag home-invasion suspects
Monday morning's home-invasion robbery took place in the Southside neighborhood near UC Berkeley. Google Maps

Berkeley police arrested four teenagers who used a dating app to steal "cash and electronics" from a Cal student during a home-invasion robbery early Monday morning, authorities report.

The home-invasion robbery happened at about 1 a.m. Monday, police said, after the UC Berkeley student, a man in his 20s, arranged to meet up with a woman through a dating app.

The Berkeley Scanner was the first and only news outlet to report the crime early Monday morning.

In the hours that followed, police used the woman's phone number to arrange a meeting with her in the guise of a date, the Berkeley Police Department said Tuesday in an updated statement about the investigation.

Police previously said only that they had found the group driving around the Berkeley Marina just after 3:45 a.m.

In Tuesday's statement, BPD said "officers arranged a meet with the female suspect using a dating app."

But that was incorrect, The Berkeley Scanner determined by reviewing court papers and speaking further with the department.

As described in court records, police used the woman's phone number to search for her online. They found her on an escort website, according to BPD.

Police later contacted the woman by phone and arranged a meetup with her at the DoubleTree hotel in the Berkeley Marina, police wrote in charging papers.

When she arrived, police conducted a felony car stop on her vehicle and arrested the occupants, according to court papers.

Royal Lawrence II. BPD

The arrested individuals were identified as Royal Lawrence II and Nina Mendoza Nieves, both 19 and from Oakland, as well as a 17-year-old Stockton girl and a 16-year-old boy who is possibly from Antioch, police told The Berkeley Scanner.

Police said they found a loaded handgun and a BB gun in the group's vehicle along with stolen property.

The home-invasion robbery took place in the 2300 block of Prospect Street near Channing Way.

Nina Mendoza Nieves. BPD

Police said the student had arranged to meet a young woman who was later identified as Mendoza Nieves.

When he took her into his apartment, however, she left the door ajar, police said Wednesday.

The three other teenagers then entered the apartment, according to the Berkeley Police Department.

The group robbed the student at gunpoint, held him down and took cash and electronics with a value of more than $4,000, according to BPD.

Both Mendoza Nieves and Lawrence remain in custody Tuesday at Santa Rita Jail and are scheduled for arraignment Wednesday.

They have been charged with home-invasion robbery, according to court records online.

Original story, 2:16 a.m. Police are investigating the home-invasion robbery of a Cal student at his apartment near UC Berkeley early Monday morning.

Police say the student, who is in his 20s, was confronted by several people with a gun after arranging to meet a woman through a dating website.

Police got the call about the incident at 1:10 a.m. Monday, the Berkeley Police Department said in response to a Berkeley Scanner inquiry.

The student said that, after inviting the woman over, two men and a woman forced their way into his home in the 2300 block of Prospect Street near Channing Way.

They ransacked his place and took camera equipment, police said.

No injuries were reported and the investigation remains in its early stages, BPD said.

A reader asked us to look into this incident, which resulted in this report. Have questions about crime in Berkeley? Alert The Berkeley Scanner.

This story was updated twice Tuesday, Feb. 7: first in the afternoon when BPD released additional details about the home-invasion robbery, then again at 8 p.m. to fix an error related to the BPD statement.