As students head back to the University of California at Berkeley for a new school year, police said there have been a string of armed robberies and sexual assaults on or near campus over the past 10 days. In two separate armed robberies Saturday around 9 p.m., two male UC Berkeley students walking near campus said men threatened them, stealing one student’s cash and both victims’ iPhones, according to police reports.
Police said the crimes came on the heels of a similar armed robbery and three sexual assaults on or near school property. On Aug. 21 and Aug. 22, while many UC Berkeley students were settling into new dorms and apartments, three women reported being groped by men on or near campus. In the early hours of Aug. 21, a woman was walking through campus west of Oxford Street when a man approached her and grabbed her groin and breasts, police said. In the two days that followed, two women — a student’s mother and a 19-year-old student — reported being inappropriately grabbed by men while walking on or near campus.
Suspects were arrested in each sexual assault case after victims positively identified the men, said UC Berkeley police Lt. Marc DeCoulode. Police said the sexual assaults were not related and none of the victims were injured. DeCoulode said Berkeley tends to see more armed robberies around the start of the school year, due largely to the sudden population spike caused by waves of new and returning students. He also said a lack of awareness on the part of some students can make them easy targets for armed robbers.
DeCoulode urged students to use common sense and take advantage of free UC Berkeley Police Department services such as Bear Walk, in which students can call a campus police officer to escort them on or around campus at night. For more information on UC Berkeley Police Department safety services and tips, visit http://police.berkeley.edu/safetyinfo/.
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