Community Meeting on Property Crime and Crime Prevention

Meeting Notes

Berkeley City Council Districts 5 and 6

Thursday, February 5, 2009     -     Northbrae Community Church 


Berkeley Police Chief Doug Hambleton

Officer Casimiro Pierantoni, BPD Area Coordinator for Districts 5 & 6

City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, District 5

City Councilmember Susan Wengraf, District 6

Councilmembers Wengraf and Capitelli welcomed local residents and introduced Chief Hambleton and Officer Pierantoni.  The Chief and Officer Pierantoni provided the following overview of police activities related to property crime.



Berkeley is currently experiencing the lowest overall rate of crime in 30 years.  But property crime is still high and that is of great concern.  Most of the crime reported in Berkeley is property crime, not violent crime. 

Reports of criminal activity and suspicious behavior, and calls for service within a given area will attract greater police attention to that area.   BPD is installing a new tracking system that will eventually reevaluate the workloads across town, thereby reevaluating allocation of resources.  This is why it so important to report every crime and to call in suspicious activities.


Police Department Information

The charge of the Police Department is to:

  1. Apprehend Criminals: responding to calls for service and reports of suspicious behavior from residents.
  2. Promote Crime Prevention
  3. Pursue Problem Solving Initiatives

BPD “Area Coordinator” (Officer Pierantoni for Districts 5 & 6) is the first point of contact to the Police Department outside of emergencies and reports of crime.  They are the liaison with the community regarding quality of life issues and crime prevention and education.

Berkeley Police Beat System

There are 18 beats during day hours (11 am to 2 am) with two patrols teams working them (with 11 to 12 officers per team plus two sergeants)...that means that each one of the 18 beats has its own beat officer.  The 18 beat officers are supported by 3 to 6 swing officers during that time.  There are bike, motorcycle and drug detail officers available for assistance.

There are 9 beats during am shift (2 am to 11 am – historically the slowest time) each with one officer.  There are “Swing Officers” available in general area to assist.

Crime Definitions

Robbery: person to person theft through force or fear of force

Strong Arm Robbery: robbery through physical force or threat of force

Armed Robbery: robbery through use of a weapon

Burglary: breaking into a house. Entering property

“Hot Prowl” Burglary: Burglary while someone is in the house

Home Invasion Robbery: Someone at home and is held up (person to person)

Investigating Crimes

            There are approximately 4000 reports of property crimes each year.   25 – 50% of burglaries are through open or unlocked doors or windows.   These are crimes of opportunity, most likely not done by seasoned criminals.     Many burglars are motivated by addiction problems and will steal even a few dollars.

            Half of all property crimes are auto-related; auto thefts and auto burglaries.  33% of stolen cars are eventually recovered.

Investigations of property crimes are limited by resources and feasibility.  Property crimes, because they’re reported after the fact, are “cold” crimes.    Leads are rare.  Decisive evidence is extremely difficult to glean from the site, there are rarely eyewitnesses, and it’s unusual for cars to yield usable fingerprints. 

             Violent crimes, crimes against people, are generally more urgent in terms of physical safety.  There is often a description of an assailant by a victim and the exact time and place are known.  Crimes against persons, as opposed to crimes against property, always have the highest priority response.


Effective Reporting and Calls for Assistance

Report ALL suspicious behavior and all crimes.  Police depend upon the eyes, ears, and intuition of those in the community in investigating crimes.  If in question, call the police.

Call the police immediately if you see:

  1. Suspicious behavior
  2. Suspicious circumstances
  3. Crime in Progress


from land line – Emergency


from cell phone – Emergency


from any phone – nonemergency (same dispatcher)

Be prepared to answer questions and to provide as much detail as possible, including physical descriptions and which direction people appear to be heading.


Crime Prevention

Secure your cars:

  1. Always lock your car.
  2. Leave NO VALUABLES in the car or within sight.  (If you are leaving your car on the street with valuables in the trunk, put them in the trunk before you reach your destination.)  This can’t be said enough and applies to “hands-free” cell phone devices and even to parking meter change left on your auto console.
  3. Use a Club (Not guaranteed but certainly a deterrent.)
  4. For high-end cars, consider a Lo-jack system.

Secure your homes:

  1. Lock doors and windows.
  2. Be sure there is no easy access to second story windows that might be left open.
  3. House alarm
  4. Leave the front/back porch lights on (use CFLs) and possible motion sensor lights in other accessible areas.
  5. Be sure landscaping is trimmed to eliminate dark hiding places.
  6. Get a dog.

Office Casimiro Pierantoni is available to do a free security assessment of residences: “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.”  Contact him at 510-981-5773

Form a Neighborhood Watch Group.   Benefit from the resources available to NW groups.  Know your neighbors and exchange contact info.  Alert neighbors to those periods you will not be at home.

FAQ regarding property Crime  


Police Department Links

  1. Crime Prevention Information 
  2. Crime Prevention Tips 
  3. Police Daily Bulletins 
  4. Community Crime View 
  5. Download Police Forms 


Respectfully submitted, Jill Martinucci, Legislative Assistant, City Council District 5,  February 5, 2009