Berkeley police are investigating a spate of "hot prowl" burglaries, those that take place when residents are home.
There have been at least three hot prowl burglaries in Berkeley since last weekend along with others that may be linked, residents told The Berkeley Scanner.
Two of the burglaries took place overnight near Ohlone Park last weekend and the third happened Tuesday at a home below the rose garden in the Berkeley Hills.
"This kind of seemingly 'minor' crime hits at the heart of everyone’s safety," said one Hearst Avenue resident whose home was hit. "Breaking into someone's home when they are sleeping? Coming downstairs and finding your back door smashed in and your house ransacked? It’s a bad feeling. It’s shocking."
During that incident, which took place as the residents slept sometime between 11:30 p.m. Friday, Feb 10, and the next morning at 8:30, an intruder or intruders stole a wallet, keys, two computers and a car. Police later found the car abandoned in Oakland.
Around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, someone tried to get into an apartment in the 1600 block of Hearst Avenue by crawling through an open window, the Berkeley Police Department said.
The resident heard the noise and yelled at the intruder, who ran off, according to BPD.
The third hot prowl burglary took place early Tuesday morning, shortly after midnight, a resident told The Scanner.
She said a stranger went through her office while she was in the next room asleep.
The burglar took a car keyfob but left other items that were bagged to go. The residents also found a steak knife sitting on top of the bags.
"We think that he felt threatened because our dog was chasing him and barking and growling," the resident said. "We used to hate that she was suspicious even of new people in the house. Now we call her the Hero Dog. We're really relieved she didn't get hurt."
The residents found the front and back doors open. They called police, who arrived within 10 minutes.
"We have kids and the idea that they could have been traumatized or hurt is extra disturbing," the resident said. "We’re all super-glad we didn’t see him before our Hero Pup chased him away. She had a steak dinner in her honor."
Both women who spoke to The Scanner praised Berkeley police for their response. One called BPD "amazing" and the other said officers were "thorough, professional and kind."
The Hearst Avenue resident said she hopes city officials are paying attention to the general level of crime in the city as well as the police department's ongoing staffing crisis.
"We’ve lived in Berkeley 50 years, and feel the level of threat we feel now is the highest it’s been," she said. "We were lucky but we are concerned that the next household that is a victim of such a crime may not be."
The Berkeley Police Department asks anyone with information about these or related cases to call the Property Crimes unit at 510-981-5737.