An Extension of the Body

A voter disturbs the peace, Good Vibrations suffers a shoplifting, and car burglaries cause existential angst.

On Walnut Street in Berkeley last week, Apprehension saw a freshly broken-into Toyota Corolla. Jewel-bright shards studded the curb and upholstery; jagged bits like aquamarine teeth barbed the front passenger window frame. A toy Cheshire Cat grinned ironically on the backseat. More shards spangled the surrounding blocks, inducing a sick feeling — and Apprehension doesn’t even own a car.

Auto-burglary victims “feel that they’ve been raped,” says Berkeley psychotherapist Harry Lieberman. “There’s a sense of helplessness, of tremendous unfairness — that they’ve been visited with a misfortune they didn’t deserve and couldn’t protect themselves from. The car is an extension of the body. It’s us.”

A continuing East Bay auto-burglary extravaganza saw twelve North Berkeley break-ins on February 3 alone. Among the loot stolen recently from cars in Berkeley were an FBI officer’s bulletproof vest and three loaded .40 caliber magazines. An Oakland hills listserv member reported on February 7 that “the thief, in a matter of minutes, broke our side window and stole some empty canvas shopping bags.” A Rockridge listserv member hired teens from an outreach program to wash her car: “Lo and behold, our iPod went missing.” She informed their adult supervisor: “He told me that the 3 kids … robbed him last night too.”

“It’s a feeling of extreme anger,” Lieberman says, “and a desire for retribution. Revenge — as in, ‘If I caught this guy, I’d cut his arm off.’ From a Berkeley point of view, people who are essentially Buddhists, opposed to capital punishment — well, being victimized gives them an existential experience where they revert to primitivism and feel that capital punishment should be put back into effect,” at least as regards their own perps.

More car trouble

Tire-slashers are terrorizing Oakland. In the penultimate week of January alone, some eighteen drivers arrived needing to replace slashed tires, says Claremont/Broadway Union 76 station cashier Troy Chenoweth. “That’s a lot more than usual.”

Beer run

Is an all-powerful suds-god demanding sacrifices? On February 5 and 6, three different shoplifters — two at the Telegraph Andronico’s, one at Safeway — swiped or tried to swipe beer. The Berkeley Police logs also reveal that a man filched a fedora from the Berkeley Hat Company on January 24, then sped away in a Benicia-registered Toyota pickup. And does the woman who swiped a Purple Titan vibrator from Good Vibrations on January 27 know what she’s getting into? “Hold on because you will need both hands for this powerhouse,” warns the Titan’s manufacturer. It’s “turbo-powered and ready to take control!”

Pay and … pay

Berkeley cops found four victims’ purses, victims’ relatives’ snapshots, and a victim’s purple plastic hairbrush in Jahton Green’s home when they arrested the serial senior-smiter on January 29. According to Berkeley Police Sergeant Mary Kusmiss, Green lurked outside supermarkets and senior centers awaiting old people to track, then attack. He helped detectives find him by paying his cell-phone bill with a stolen credit card.

Not DeWalt’s fault

At 2:18 a.m. on a stormy January 24, a man living above Berkeley’s Edelweiss Jewelers was awakened by loud noises, looked outside, and saw two unfamiliar men — non-tenants — in the courtyard below. He called the cops, and according to Kusmiss, one arrived to find the pair gone, having left behind “a black-and-yellow canvas bag containing a handsaw, a DeWalt-brand cordless drill, a DeWalt cordless circular saw, a DeWalt reciprocating saw, a DeWalt cutoff tool, and a half-dozen miscellaneous saw blades” — and an eight-foot-by-four-inch hole in the store’s wall. DeWalt tools don’t rob stores. People rob stores.

Bone density

It’s always Halloween in Pleasant Hill, where according to the police log a woman reported on January 30 “that a man with a mask and skeleton outfit had been in her backyard and had come to the front door and exposed himself.”

Stay awake

Petula Clark had a top-ten hit in 1967 with her jaunty tune “Don’t Sleep on the Subway,” and 41 years later it’s still great advice! On February 5, according to BART police, “a female passenger fell asleep on a Pittsburg-bound train” and awoke to find a man “inappropriately fondling her.” Disembarking at Rockridge, he escaped. The next day, a patron reported seeing a man steal a sleeping woman’s purse on a Richmond-bound train. Disembarking at El Cerrito del Norte, he boarded a bus, but was swiftly arrested.

Electoral uproar

On Super Tuesday, a Martinez woman was reportedly disturbing the peace at a polling place. According to the police log, she explained that she was upset because “she was unable to cast her vote in the ‘democratic’ way and they lied to her and she wants them prosecuted.” Well, who doesn’t?

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