Sheriff’s office plane helps BPD catch suspects from Bay Area auto burglaries

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Berkeley police arrested a man and woman Friday afternoon, and found a gun they allegedly discarded, in connection with an auto burglary investigation spanning cities across the Bay Area.

The Alameda County sheriff’s office airplane, which had originally begun to follow the suspect vehicle in Oakland, ultimately helped lead Berkeley police to that car and its two occupants, authorities say.

Airplane footage also helped police in Berkeley confirm that a gun discovered over the weekend by a Cornell Avenue resident had been discarded by the suspects, authorities say. The gun was loaded and had an extended magazine, according to BPD.

Lt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County sheriff’s office said a police sergeant in Oakland had originally found the suspect vehicle, around High and Redding streets in that city, “using pings from a pair of recently stolen Airpods.”

Shortly before 3 p.m., the sergeant found the car parked behind a Walgreens and saw that the people inside it “were discarding property from the vehicle,” authorities said. The sergeant recognized the vehicle as having been involved in several auto burglaries throughout the Bay Area over the prior week.

The sergeant also saw that the vehicle had a stolen license plate, authorities said. The ACSO airplane ALCO 2 responded to the area and was able to pick up the vehicle.

In Oakland, police tried to stop the driver but he fled, authorities said.

The airplane pilot proceeded to follow the car, a black 2018 Audi, through numerous East Bay cities, including Oakland, San Leandro, Richmond, Albany and Berkeley. Video of the incident appears at the top of this story.

The driver “hit at least one vehicle and nearly hit multiple other vehicles and pedestrians,” according to authorities. “ALCO 2 observed the occupants of the car discard numerous items throughout the pursuit.”

According to the Berkeley Police Department, both vehicle occupants — a 36-year-old Oakland woman and a 38-year-old Antioch man — abandoned the Audi near 63rd and Baker streets before fleeing on foot shortly before 4 p.m.

The suspects were arrested on suspicion of reckless driving, possession of stolen property, identity theft and crimes related to firearm possession. Berkeleyside is not publishing their names because they have not been charged and are no longer in custody.

BPD said the driver at times reached speeds of 60-70 mph as he tried to evade authorities.

“During the course of the investigation, officers recovered several items related to auto burglary, theft and identity theft,” BPD said.

Authorities said they recovered items stolen Friday morning from South San Francisco, Oakland and Milpitas.

This incident remains under investigation.

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