Berkeley Real Estate Blog

May 22, 2009

Berkeley Police On The Forefront of High Tech Sleuthing

Filed under: Uncategorized — serkes @ 11:44 pm

August Vollmer had a reputation as the “father of modern law enforcement” for his modernization of the Berkeley Police Department in the early 20th Century.

Barbara Gilbert, “An Independent Voice For District 5 and the Entire Berkeley Community” just forwarded this piece from the Berkeley Police Department, and it’s so good, I’m reposting in its entirety!


Fellow Community Members,

With some of the troubling events that have affected other parts of our City recently, I’m happy to be able to share some good news that has an immediate impact on Northeast and North Central Berkeley’s property crime situation.

As you may already know, some auto burglars who prowl Northeast Berkeley are prolific; one auto burglar may burglarize several cars in one night. Apprehending one of these prolific individuals can obviously have an impact in reducing the number of auto burglaries in an area affected by property crime, like Northeast Berkeley. With that in mind, I thought you might be interested in hearing about an arrest our Property Crimes Detective Division made recently.

On May 5th, at about 6:00 p.m., one of our fellow community members parked his car near the corner of Hearst Avenue and Euclid Avenue. Unknowingly, he left his laptop bag on the back seat of his car. Sometime before 8:00 p.m., someone smashed the car window and stole the laptop from the rear seat. The victim reported the auto burglary but there were no significant investigative leads in the case. This is where the story gets really interesting. The victim had a back-up program installed on his computer that automatically uploaded new data from the computer’s hard drive to an online virtual storage location. The suspect, not knowing of the back-up program, proceeded to take photographs of himself with the computer’s built-in camera; those photographs were eventually up-loaded to the internet based storage location. The victim discovered the photographs of the suspect and passed them along to Detective Sergeant Ed Spiller and Detective Earl Emelson. The Detectives recognized the suspect as Gerardo Vega (1/30/72) of Berkeley. Vega had a long history of auto burglary and theft, and the Detectives knew he had just been released from jail at the start of the year.

The Detectives closely examined the photographs and noticed that Vega appeared to be sitting in a motel room when he snapped the pictures with the computer’s camera. Sgt. Spiller, theorizing that the victim’s computer had accessed the internet thorough the motel’s wireless internet system, began work to identify the I.P. address utilized by the victim’s computer in hopes that it would lead them to the motel where Vega was staying. Not content to wait for the I.P. address information to become available, Sgt. Spiller and Det. Emelson began checking local Berkeley motels for signs of Vega. After checking the Berkeley motels and not locating Vega, the Detectives decided to expand their search to Oakland motels. While checking motels on MacArthur Blvd., Det. Emelson spotted Vega getting into a car in a motel parking lot. The Detectives stopped Vega and arrested him for possession of the stolen laptop. During the investigation, the Detectives located additional stolen property (from other auto burglaries) inside Vega’s car and in his motel room. Vega’s girlfriend, Maria Reynoso (4/27/72) of Berkeley, was also arrested during the investigation at the motel.

The Detectives are certain that Vega was involved in numerous auto burglaries around Berkeley, including Northeast and North Central Berkeley. They are confident that Vega’s arrest will have a noticeable impact on the number of auto burglaries we deal with in the near future. This is not an isolated incident for our Property Crimes Detective Division. Work like this is done daily by our Detectives, but it is not widely advertised by our Department. Please let me know if you enjoyed this “Detective Story” and if you would like to hear similar stories in the future. In the next update, I plan to discuss the problem of auto theft, and what we can do to prevent it.

As always, feel free to contact me directly with any questions, comments, or suggestions.


Officer Casimiro Pierantoni #96
Area Coordinator-Area 1
Community Services Bureau
Berkeley Police Department
Phn: (510) 981-5773
Fax: (510) 981-5819


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