Albany police are investigating a break-in at the Solano Avenue CVS where thieves tried to steal an ATM on Friday morning, authorities report.
The incident happened shortly after 5 a.m. at the CVS store at 1328 Solano Ave., the city of Albany said in a prepared statement. The store is several blocks west of Berkeley's northwestern border.
Officers initially were dispatched to investigate a driver who was ramming a truck into the front doors of the store. When police arrived, the burglars fled in a stolen van, which they later abandoned in Berkeley.
An eyewitness to much of the incident described what she saw to The Berkeley Scanner (TBS), speaking on condition of anonymity.
The woman told TBS that her cat initially woke her up at about 5 a.m. wanting breakfast.
"I started hearing noises outside, breaking glass," she said. "It was quite a racket."
A few minutes later, when the noise didn't stop, the woman got up to peek through her blinds and saw what appeared to be an industrial-type truck repeatedly rear-ending the front doors of CVS.
"Every time it backed into it, more glass was shattered," she said. "I was kinda shocked. I live alone but I just said out loud, 'Oh my God!' At that moment, I thought, I gotta call the cops."
Then she saw the red-and-blue flashing lights of a police car approaching on Ramona Avenue.
Just then, she said, two guys jumped out of the truck and ran to a nearby white van.
It was still quite dark out, but the woman could see that both individuals appeared to be men in their 30s or 40s. One was wearing white pants, she added.
"They ran so fast, either they were Olympians or they were on something," the woman said.
As the officer in the police cruiser turned around to face them, the men in the van "tore off" from Ramona onto Solano and drove down toward the freeway.
"If somebody had been on that corner — a pedestrian, a bus or a parked car — they would have been demolished," she said. "Fortunately, because of the hour, there was no one there."
The woman managed to go back to sleep but went over to CVS, where she is a frequent customer, a bit later in the morning.
There was "a lot of hubbub down there," she said. "I went down to see what was happening."
The woman said a number of passers-by had asked her to describe what she had seen.
"I was just out there for an hour — telling my tale in that time," she said. "Everybody said they were shocked that it's happening in Albany — but the whole country seems to be turning upside down. That was the major response I heard."
The CVS store was closed for hours, blocked off with yellow caution tape.
The truck was ultimately towed and at some point, repairmen showed up to replace the glass doors.
"It's been a huge inconvenience for people who came to pick up their prescriptions," the woman said. "They were told, well we're closed, you can't get them."
Read more about crime in and around Berkeley.
The store reopened at about 1 p.m., a CVS staff member said.
The woman said the Albany CVS is a popular destination for the neighborhood despite being a chain.
"It's a very happening place, even on the holidays," she said. "It's like, the place to be."
The woman said she'd lived on the avenue for over a decade, and had always felt secure in the neighborhood.
"I was really surprised to see this," she said. "You just feel a little less safe."
Albany police said the investigation is ongoing.