Unarmed man robs US Bank branch

Police are asking the public for help in locating a robber who held up a San Leandro bank on Monday.

No one was injured in the afternoon heist.

Officers were dispatched at 4:30 p.m. to the US Bank at 1585 E. 14th St. for a report of a bank robbery, Lt. Robert McManus said.

When they arrived, bank employees reported that a white man in his mid-20s to early 30s, casually dressed and wearing a baseball hat, entered the bank and approached a teller window, McManus said.

The suspect, who police say was not armed, then handed a teller a note that demanded money.

A weapon was neither seen nor simulated, McManus said.

The teller complied and handed the robber an undisclosed amount of cash and the suspect walked out of the bank, police said. He was last seen running from the area.

Detectives said they were checking the neighborhood for surveillance video in an effort to develop additional leads.

Anyone with information about the bank robbery is asked to call police at 510-577-2740 or text the word "SLPD" and the tip to 847411.

-- Natalie Neysa Alund, Staff


Spare the Air alert issued for today

Poor air quality will waft into the new year as the 24th Spare the Air alert of the season was issued for Wednesday.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has banned wood-burning both indoors and outdoors on Jan. 1, making it illegal to burn wood, manufactured fire logs or solid fuels for 24 hours.

This wood-burning ban will be in effect for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southern Sonoma and southwestern Solano counties.

First-time violators of the ban may be subject to a $100 fine or be given the option of taking a wood smoke awareness class. Subsequent violations will result in fines of $500 or more.

The Winter Spare the Air season lasts until Feb. 28. To check if a no-burn ban has been issued on any day, go to the air district's website at, or call 877-4-NO-BURN.

The district also offers Spare the Air apps for iPhone and Android smart phones.

-- Katie Nelson, Staff


Police technology falls short, auditor reports

More than a year after slamming police oversight of its technology systems, Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby said the department has made insufficient progress carrying out her recommendations.

In a follow-up report released Tuesday, Ruby faulted the department for still not having finalized a long-term technology plan or a process to evaluate the systems it has purchased.

The department has fully implemented only six of the 22 recommendations made in Ruby's August 2012 report. Ten of the recommendations have been partially implemented; six have not yet been implemented.

"Given the seriousness of the original findings and the impact on safety from a technology standpoint, that is unacceptable," Ruby said.

But City Administrator Deanna Santana said the update ignored several key developments. She said the department was closing in on hiring a full-time police technology director, moving forward on several new systems including one for records management, and had begun hiring outside project managers to oversee big projects.

"I think there has been a solid set of progress and now that we are more fully staffed we should be able to make additional progress," Santana said.

Ruby's initial audit found that over the five previous years the police department had squandered nearly $2 million on technology systems that were never used or underutilized. City officials had disputed Ruby's figures, maintaining that just under $600,000 had been misspent.

The department has satisfied Ruby's call to inventory its technology systems and projects, develop a multiyear budget for technology spending and begin work obtaining a new computer-aided dispatch system.

Regarding the strategic plan that would spell out technology goals, the city reported to Ruby that police and city technology officials had begun meeting weekly to develop the plan.

-- Matthew Artz, Staff


Couple stuck aboard ship trapped in ice

An adventurous elderly couple will have an icy New Year's Day after an excursion ship they took down to Antarctica got stuck in the ice.

George and Norma Trillia, of Richmond, are two of 74 tourists, scientists and crew members stuck aboard the Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy, said Trillia's neighbor Jane Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said the couple has gone on more exotic vacations in the past, but that it came as a shock to learn the pair had been trapped in Antarctic waters for more than week.

"I was thinking 'There must be a lot of ships that go down there this time of year,' but as it turns out, it is only this one," Gonzalez said. "And it turns out, they are on that one ship."

Crew members had hoped the Australian icebreaker ship Aurora Australis would be able to crack through the thick ice and allow the research vessel to continue on its way. But bad weather forced the Australis to retreat to open water.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said Tuesday a helicopter on board a Chinese icebreaker would be able to rescue the 52 passengers when the weather clears.

The crew said it plans to stay behind with the ship until the ice breaks up naturally.

-- Katie Nelson, Staff