Berkeley carjacking case leads to gun seizure, ID theft charges

Police recovered not only the stolen car but also a stolen motorcycle, two replica firearms and a loaded Sig Sauer pistol, among other illicit items.

Berkeley carjacking case leads to gun seizure, ID theft charges
The carjacking investigation led police to a home in East Oakland. Google Street View

Two men named Jose Lopez are facing numerous felony charges stemming from a Berkeley police investigation into the carjacking of a pizza deliveryman.

Hayward police stopped the men driving the stolen car earlier this month after BPD asked other law enforcement agencies to watch out for it, according to charging papers.

When Berkeley police detectives subsequently searched the stolen car, they found a loaded Sig Sauer pistol and two replica firearms, police wrote.

BPD then searched the men's house in East Oakland where they found a stolen motorcycle, an antique revolver and other illicit items, according to court papers.

Pizza delivery driver carjacked in Berkeley
As the driver returned to his car, a stranger ran up to it and jumped in the driver’s seat, police said.

The investigation began May 22 when a deliveryman stopped in the 2600 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way (near Derby Street) to drop off a pizza at about at 1:10 a.m.

As he stood near his trunk, a chubby man who looked homeless got behind the wheel of his Yaris, according to BPD.

When the deliveryman tried to confront the car thief, the suspect reached toward his waistband indicating he had a gun, police wrote.

On June 7, police in Hayward spotted the stolen Yaris and pulled it over. Both men in the car gave police the name "Jose Lopez," according to BPD.

Police determined that the driver's full name was Jose Lopez Escobar, 34, and his passenger was Jose Lopez Arevalo, 25.

Both men were arrested: Lopez Escobar in connection with the stolen car and Lopez Arevalo because he was "in possession of narcotics, on probation and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest," BPD wrote.

Berkeley police then searched the Yaris and found a backpack containing the replica firearms and loaded pistol.

Read more about crime in Berkeley.

Police also took a closer look at Lopez Arevalo, in part because he matched the description of the chubby carjacker provided by the pizza deliveryman, BPD wrote.

They got a warrant to search his home in East Oakland.

When BPD arrived to search the house, officers saw Lopez Escobar in the yard next to what turned out to be a stolen motorcycle, according to court papers.

A search of Lopez Escobar turned up suspected methamphetamine as well as drug paraphernalia in his sock, police wrote.

BPD also searched Lopez Escobar's room, where officers found the antique revolver as well as ammunition that was a match to the Sig Sauger pistol found during the Hayward traffic stop.

Police also found two IDs and a bank card belonging to the pizza deliveryman from the Berkeley carjacking, authorities said.

The deliveryman identified Lopez Arevalo as the man who had taken his car, according to BPD.

Jose Lopez Arevalo. BPD

The Alameda County DA's office charged Lopez Arevalo with the Berkeley carjacking, according to court papers.

Lopez Escobar, who was driving the stolen car when police pulled it over June 7, was charged with vehicle theft.

Both men were charged with receiving stolen property, identified as the Yaris and the motorcycle, and carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle.

Lopez Escobar was also charged with identity theft, according to charging documents.

Jose Lopez Escobar. BPD

When he was arrested, Lopez Escobar was already on probation for a receiving stolen property case from November 2023, according to court papers.

In December 2023, he was charged again, this time on suspicion of ID theft involving 10 or more victims, as well as an allegation that he had a "large quantity of contraband," and two felony counts of receiving stolen property, court records show.

On Jan. 22, that entire case was dismissed as part of a plea deal where his November felony count was reduced to a misdemeanor.

He entered a no-contest plea to misdemeanor receiving stolen property and was placed on a year of court probation, which is unsupervised.

As far as the new Berkeley case, Lopez Escobar was released on his own recognizance after being charged in recent weeks.

He is scheduled for a pretrial hearing July 29, records show.

Lopez Arevalo does not appear to have been arrested in Alameda County since the carjacking case was filed June 18, according to court records and police.

His next court date and booking photograph were not immediately available.

The Berkeley Scanner is 100% member-supported. That means no ads, no spam and no distractions. Help ensure timely, accurate public safety news for Berkeley by signing up now.