A young man has been charged with vehicle theft after the mugging of an 80-year-old Berkeley woman and her niece in December, court papers show.
The filed charges — vehicle theft and receiving stolen property — were substantially less than police asked the Alameda County DA's office to consider, according to charging papers.
Police said GPS ankle monitor data placed Kylen Byrd, a 19-year-old Oakland man, "within feet of the scene of the robbery" on Dec. 20.
He was also at the vehicle theft scene later that night, according to court papers.
Byrd was wearing an ankle monitor because he was already on probation at the time of the Berkeley crime, police wrote.
According to BPD, two people attacked the 80-year-old woman and her niece while they were on their way to dinner near College and Alcatraz avenues several days before Christmas.
The robbers shoved both women to the ground, taking the older woman's purse, according to police.
The younger woman "was able to fight her attacker off" and held onto her bag.
The older woman was injured during the robbery and is still recovering as of this week.
Later that night, individuals showed up at the older woman's home on Brookside Drive and stole her Honda Accord.
According to court papers, the culprits arrived on Brookside in a Nissan Altima that had been linked to Kylen Byrd.
BPD alerted other law enforcement agencies to look out for the car and pull it over in connection with the Berkeley robbery.
On Jan. 8, Berkeley police wrote, sheriff's deputies in San Joaquin County spotted the Nissan and pulled it over. Byrd, who was alone in the car, was arrested.
Kylen Byrd. BPD
Berkeley police investigators subsequently interviewed Byrd.
He admitted he had been on Brookside Drive in Berkeley at the time of the car theft and "was in the area" during the robbery, but denied being part of the robbery itself.
He said he had "traveled to the area with 'friends' and though he did not witness the robbery, he had an idea that that was what they were doing," Berkeley police wrote.
BPD asked the DA's office to charge Byrd with robbery and car theft, conspiracy and elder abuse due to the older woman's age.
Ultimately, he was charged only with vehicle theft and receiving stolen property, according to court papers.
An associate of Byrd's, 20-year-old Dylan McMillian of Oakland, had previously been charged with vehicle theft and possession of stolen property after being spotted by Alameda County sheriff's deputies in the stolen Honda from Brookside.
Berkeley police noted that "law enforcement database checks of Kylen Byrd showed a connection" to suspect McMillian, who also has a history of robbery and carjacking charges.
As of this week, McMillian remains in custody with a bail of $325,000 in connection with multiple cases.
Byrd was released on bail last week and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing March 20.
Teen girl robbed near Claremont Ave., thrown to the ground
Berkeley saw a nearly 30% increase in robberies in 2023 compared to the prior year.
So far this year, robbery reports are down, with 14 robberies listed in 2023 through Tuesday night, according to the latest BPD data.
Berkeley has historically averaged about one robbery a day.
Even though reports are down, some of the robberies have involved more violence than usual. In some, female victims have been targeted.
The first robbery of the year took place Sunday, Jan. 7, in the 3100 block of Eton Avenue, in the Claremont-Elmwood neighborhood not far from Brookside Drive.
Berkeley police said a teenage girl had been walking on Eton Avenue when a man ran up to her from behind and "threw her to the ground" at about 7:35 p.m.
The man hit the girl while trying to grab her bag, police said.
Once he got it, the man fled in an SUV driven by a male accomplice. Both men were described as "unknown race" males wearing all black, BPD said.
The next day, a teenager on a scooter was able to avoid being robbed by fleeing from a man armed with a gun near the UC Berkeley campus.
In mid-January, two female teenagers were arrested in connection with a violent carjacking on University Avenue. They ended up being caught because they were unable to drive stick, a witness said.
Berkeley police have also been investigating a pepper-spray robbery series over the past week involving numerous robbery reports around the city.
That investigation is ongoing.