Police are searching for a robber who struck at Mechanics Bank on the 1800 block of Solano Avenue at approximately 10:53 a.m. Thursday. The robber—insisting that he was carrying a gun which he never displayed—demanded money from a teller and then fled from the bank with cash, said Berkeley Police spokesperson Kevin Schofield.
Details of the ensuing pursuit are fuzzy. Based on the dispatch report, Schofield said 20 BPD and Albany police officers combed a block in Albany where they suspected the robber might be hiding, but could not locate him. Schofield couldn’t discern whether the robber fled via car or foot, based on the dispatch report.
Police radio reports indicated that, while fleeing from the bank, the robber dumped the dye-packet—which banks stash in a banded wad of cash to track bank robbers. Schofield could not confirm this, adding that even if he had the information he could not share it for fear that bank robbers would get a better understanding of techniques used to track them.
Radio transmissions also linked a traffic accident involving a patrol car to the pursuit of the robber, though Schofield was unable to confirm that the accident, which occurred at 11:26 a.m. at the intersection of Solano and The Alameda, was connected to the bank robbery. No one was injured in the crash.
Request For a Helping Hand
The Berkeley Public Education Foundation is collecting donations to replace $3,500 in video equipment stolen last weekend from Berkeley Alternative High School.
Philip Halpern, who teaches video production classes at the school, described in a letter how he arrived at his classroom Dec. 15 to find his locked storage closet open and the video equipment missing. The gear was used as part of a special curriculum to engage students in their studies. Students had nearly completed a semester-long movie project.
Among the items lost include: Five Sony digital video cameras, two Sony lavalier microphones, four long-life batteries, two battery chargers, one NADY wireless microphone kit (one lavalier, one handheld mic), two microphone cables (20’ xlr), four pairs of Sony studio headphones and one used, bank-quality metal storage cabinet.
Since the district’s insurance deductible is far greater than the value of the stolen equipment, the foundation has started a fundraising drive to replace the equipment by Jan. 2. Donations may be sent to the Berkeley Public Education Foundation with “BAHS Video” written in the memo space.