Thieves Smash UC Berkeley Police Chief’s SUV To Steal Gun, Badge

A gun stolen from University of California at Berkeley police Chief Margo Bennett’s SUV as she jogged at the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond on Friday morning was not secured except being in the locked SUV, a UC Berkeley police lieutenant said today.

In addition to the loaded gun, Bennett’s badge and official laptop were also stolen from the unmarked police Ford Escape. The gun was not stored in a safe and did not have a trigger lock, UC Berkeley police Lt. Marc DeCoulode said.

The burglary was reported at 8:17 a.m. Friday in the parking lot near the Mudpuppies dog grooming business, park officials said. Bennett had gone for a jog and returned to find a rear window of the SUV smashed.

In addition to the badge, loaded gun and department-issued laptop, a diamond ring, an iPad, a cellphone and her police identification were stolen from the car, East Bay Regional Park District spokeswoman Carolyn Jones said.

DeCoulode said department-issued computers are typically password-protected but would not say whether there was sensitive information stored on the computer.

“She’s rather upset,” DeCoulode said. “It just shows that anyone can be the victim of a crime so if anyone sees suspicious activity we hope they will report it.”

Auto burglaries are common at East Bay shoreline parks, where easy access from the freeway lets thieves get in and out of the parking lots quickly, Jones said. Such burglaries are most common in the Berkeley Marina.

Police recommend not bringing valuables to parks if possible, and otherwise to keep them out of view. They also recommend putting valuables in the trunk of the car before arriving at the park as thieves may be watching people arriving.

The department works to cut down on burglaries of park visitors by regularly patrolling parking lots, having maintenance staff keep an eye on things as well,and maintaining foliage around the lots to limit hiding places, Jones said.

Anyone with information about Friday’s burglary or who sees suspicious activity at the lots has been asked to contact East Bay Regional Park District police dispatch at (510) 881-1833.

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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