Police: Man who kept stealing from Berkeley REI now charged

BPD linked Christopher Owen to at least four commercial burglaries at REI in less than two months, charging papers show.

Police: Man who kept stealing from Berkeley REI now charged
Police say the man stole nearly $5,000 in gear from the Berkeley REI during repeat visits this year. Emilie Raguso/Aipsasiamedia

A man who stole nearly $5,000 in gear from the Berkeley REI during repeat visits this year is now facing criminal charges, according to court papers.

Berkeley police linked 37-year-old Christopher Owen (no address) to at least four commercial burglaries at REI in less than two months, charging papers show.

A retail theft investigator for Lululemon helped BPD identify Owen after Berkeley police started looking into the REI theft series. An SFPD sergeant who was familiar with Owen also helped BPD make the ID.

Police say Owen went into REI in late January and took beanies and a backpack worth $900 from the store, which is located at 1338 San Pablo Ave. near Gilman Street.

A few days later, Owen went back to REI and took two backpacks worth nearly $700, according to BPD.

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In mid-March, police say Owen went to REI twice within days, taking about $1,500 in clothing and gear on one occasion and more than $1,600 in Patagonia jackets on the other.

REI surveillance cameras captured all of the incidents, police wrote.

After identifying Owen, a Berkeley police property crime investigator got a warrant for his arrest last week.

On Wednesday, REI called Berkeley police to say Owen was in the store again.

Berkeley police officers responded to the store and arrested him.

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Christopher Owen. BPD

On Friday, the Alameda County district attorney's office charged Owen with four counts of commercial burglary, according to court papers.

He has several prior convictions, for grand theft and receiving stolen property in 2020, and for commercial burglary in 2023.

All three convictions resulted in probation.

As of this week, Owen remains in custody with a combined bail of more than $100,000.

He is scheduled for a pretrial hearing April 10.

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