Loaded gun taken from UC Berkeley police chief’s car

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From InsideBayArea

By George Kelly

RICHMOND — The East Bay Regional Parks on Monday announced that a police gun and badge taken last week in a vehicle break-in were those of UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennett and were stolen as she went for a jog.

East Bay Regional Parks spokeswoman Carolyn Jones said that among the items stolen from Bennett’s unmarked vehicle were the loaded Sig Sauer P239 handgun and ammunition, her UC Berkeley police badge and identification card, a black laptop computer, an iPad, and a diamond ring.

A spokesperson for the UC Berkeley Police Department would not address questions regarding the break-in. It’s unclear whether Bennett was on duty, whether she was following protocol when she left her gun, ammunition and department laptop in her locked vehicle, whether any of the items have been recovered, the value of the stolen property or why

she left the items in the vehicle.

Margo Bennett, a University of California Police Department captain with more than 35 years of law enforcement experience, was named UC Berkeley’s

Margo Bennett, a University of California Police Department captain with more than 35 years of law enforcement experience, was named UC Berkeley’s new police chief in 2013. (UC Berkeley Police Department) (Laura Oda)

The incident, Jones said, serves to remind regional parks users about best safety practices.

Bennett reported the incident about 8:30 a.m. after she returned to the vehicle to find the left rear window had been smashed in after she parked in the westernmost lot at Richmond’s Point Isabel Regional Shoreline, Jones said.

“It’s obviously a terrible thing,” Jones said Monday. “No one wants to go to the park, enjoy themselves and find their windows smashed. It underscores the risks and nature of the problem.”

Jones said vehicle break-ins appear to be more common in the shoreline sites of the district’s more than five dozen parks. That includes Point Isabel and McLaughlin Eastshore State Park and the city of Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park.

“Those offer easy freeway access for folks,” Jones said.

Though parks officials have directed police to patrol lots and asked groundskeepers to clear foliage to cut down on hiding places, the best way to prevent crime is to limit risks, Jones said: leave valuables at home, and never place items in trunks after arriving on-site.

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