Smash-and-grab theft at Apple Store

A burglar drove a car into the Apple Store on Fourth Street, smashing the glass facade and security gate and stealing several products May 9, police said.

The driver crashed into the store on the 1800 block of Fourth Street at about 2:52 a.m., sounding an alarm, said Berkeley police spokeswoman Jennifer Coats. Officers found the car surrounded by broken glass, but the suspect was nowhere to be found, Coats said. No arrests have been made. Police said the driver deliberately drove into the store to burglarize it.

Cause of fire by overpass undetermined

Crews are working to determine what caused an explosion and massive fire in about 100 recycling bins under the University Avenue freeway overpass May 7, snarling traffic along Interstate 80 for hours.

Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong said one homeless person had undisclosed injuries but was not transported to a hospital. No fire crew members were injured, he added.

The blaze, which began around 2:41 p.m., was controlled by 2:59 p.m., Dong said. Smoke could be seen for miles, and several streets around the fire, at Second Street and Hearst Avenue, were closed while fire crews and police worked the scene.

Dong said early reports that the fire was caused by an explosion at a drug lab were false.


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Police said firefighters rescued two homeless men who were camping near the bins, which are in a locked storage space, surrounded by chain-link fence and owned by the city of Berkeley. Those men, who have not been identified, were questioned by police but were not arrested.

Police advisory on smartphone robberies

Berkeley police have issued an advisory about distracted walking in the wake of numerous robberies of smartphones.

"Don't use your smartphone while outside. Walk with others when possible. Be aware of your surroundings," the department advises.

"Using your phone's security features can also be a deterrent. For example, people using Apple products with the latest operating system, iOS7, can permanently disable a stolen phone using the Activation Lock feature."

The release notes that, "Of the 309 pedestrian robberies last year, 63 percent occurred with people who were walking alone and 58 percent had their smartphone in their hand."

The largest number of incidents involve people walking alone at night.

"Some victims had phones forcibly taken from them. Others were convinced by seemingly friendly strangers to take their phone out of their pockets or let a stranger borrow it."

Free sessions with meditation master

Meditation master Mahamandaleshwar Swami Nityananda of India will be offering three free public programs at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St.

A free meditation and talk is 7 to 9 p.m. May 16. A free session with chanting and dancing is set for 6:30 to 8 p.m. May 17. An hour of chanting followed by a question-and-answer period is 9 a.m. to noon May 18.

There is also a meditation intensive session from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 17 for a $100 fee.

Chocolate & Chalk Festival on Shattuck

The free admission Chocolate & Chalk Art Festival returns to north end of Shattuck Avenue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 31 with sidewalk art, entertainment and activities, and the opportunity to buy tickets and sample chocolate treats.

The 18th annual event will assign areas of sidewalk to participants, novice and expert alike, who want to create drawings, with no fee to the artist. The drawings judged best in the chalk art contest will be eligible for cash prizes, while runners-up will get a $25 gift certificate from Andronico's Markets.

Chocolate sampling starts with the purchase of a packet of tickets (20 for $20) at the event booths at 1451 or 1607 Shattuck.

Festival booths, balloon twisters, a pony ride and face painters will be found along Shattick between Rose and Vine streets, and there will be four music areas. Entertainment will include the Dylan Platt Band, Lee Waterman Trio, Kathryn Rayne, The Queue, The Elderberries Irish Band, Cathy Morris the Violin Lady, Sean Lee's One Man Band and Adrian West Trio.

Free football program at San Pablo Park

A free football mini camp and mentoring program for ages 5 to 18 is offered 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays through July 26 at San Pablo Park, 2800 Park St. in Berkeley.

For more details or to register, contact coach Todd Walker at 510-761-4515.

-- David DeBolt, Katie Nelson and Chris Treadway