Berkeley police are investigating a spate of robberies in recent days where victims have been pepper-sprayed, authorities report.
The series appears to have begun Thursday night, when Berkeley police responded to three reports of robbery via pepper spray in less than an hour.
There have already been two more reports this week, police said Tuesday night in response to a Berkeley Scanner inquiry.
Thursday's robberies began at about 7:30 p.m. in the 1300 block of Bonita Avenue, near Rose Street, in North Berkeley.
The robbers were described as two males and a female, police said.
At 8:10 p.m. a male and female robbed someone in the 2700 block of Sacramento Street, near Derby Street, in South Berkeley
Then, at 8:15 p.m., two males robbed someone at Harmon and King streets in South Berkeley and then fled in a black SUV.
This week's robberies took place Monday at about 7:10 p.m. in the 1300 block of Carleton Street, near Acton Street, in South Berkeley; and Tuesday at about 9 p.m. at Chestnut Street and Hearst Avenue in central Berkeley, police said.
In all five cases, the robbers used or brandished pepper spray. Police are looking into whether the robberies may be related.
So far, no one has been arrested.
Read more about robberies in Berkeley.
Robberies were down in Berkeley to start the year, with just one reported in the first week of January.
There have been at least 13 more robberies in Berkeley since then, bringing the year's total to at least 14.
(Note: The numbers above were updated slightly after publication to reflect the latest BPD update.)
Three weeks into the year, that's still well below Berkeley's historic average of about one robbery a day.
Last year, Berkeley saw a 27% increase in robberies compared to 2022, according to preliminary BPD data.
Overall, there were 380 robberies in Berkeley in 2023 compared to 299 the prior year.