Older Berkeley woman mugged — hours later, they stole her car

"We’re getting hammered," one community member wrote on Nextdoor, of crime in the Claremont neighborhood.

Older Berkeley woman mugged — hours later, they stole her car
Both incidents took place in the typically safe Claremont neighborhood. Google Maps

Robbers in Berkeley mugged an 80-year-old woman and her adult niece on Wednesday night and then went to her house hours later and stole her car, police say.

The incident began at about 7:30 p.m. in the 2700 block of Alcatraz Avenue between Claremont and College avenues, Berkeley police said.

The woman and her 45-year-old niece were walking to dinner on College Avenue when two people approached them from behind, knocked them to the ground and stole their purses.

Both women sustained bumps and bruises from the mugging but declined medical treatment.

The culprits fled in a dark-colored getaway car that had been waiting on Alcatraz Avenue, police said.

Hours after the robbery, they returned to the home of one of the victims and took her car.

The auto theft took place on Brookside Drive at around midnight, a community member said.

"It is so rare for them to come back," police told The Scanner. "That does not happen often."

Read more about robberies in Berkeley.

Councilman Mark Humbert, who represents the district, said he had been concerned to hear about what happened.

"I'm appalled that Berkeleyans continue to be subject to these violent robberies and vehicle thefts. These crimes are particularly heartbreaking when they target elders," he said shortly after publication. "But no one should have to live in fear of attacks like this. I'm thankful that the City is moving forward with automated license plate readers to help catch and deter these cowardly criminals, and I fully support BPD's efforts to deploy them ASAP."

There have been about 1,300 vehicle thefts in Berkeley this year, up 62% from last year.

Robberies overall are up 32% in 2023, from 290 in 2022 to 382 this year, according to the latest BPD data.

Writing on Nextdoor, a man described the robbery as a violent mugging that happened near Safeway.

In response, a woman asked if the incidents had been reported to Berkeley police.

"These crimes were reported to BPD, as was the garden hose cutting theft at this property last week and the catalytic converter theft that was committed at this same vehicle and location a short while ago," the man wrote. "All crimes reported and all suspects are at large despite high quality video and license plates captured. This is just one victim and one specific location. There have been many more in the area recently. We’re getting hammered."

This story was updated after publication, at about 6:15 p.m., when BPD provided additional information.

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