Nov 20, 2015
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A robbery suspect in El Cerrito who allegedly snapped selfies with a stolen phone that automatically uploaded to the victim’s cloud storage has been identified as Tasja Dowell, an 18-year-old woman possibly from Richmond, police said Thursday.

Dowell, pictured above in one of her apparent self-portraits, became a hit on the Internet following media reports about the robbery, which occurred about 12:40 p.m. on Nov. 5.

Dowell is accused of assaulting an El Cerrito High student, swiping her cellphone and backpack, as the victim was walking eastbound on Central Avenue near Clayton Street, police said. Dowell fled in a vehicle with four male suspects, but after the crime she allegedly snapped several self-portraits on the victim’s phone. Several days later, the student noticed the photo uploads in her online cloud storage.

The student recognized Dowell as her attacker and sent the images to El Cerrito Police Department, which then forwarded them to the media in the hope of identifying her.

“Within several hours after the press release, the ECPD received numerous calls from the public providing us with Dowell’s identity and addresses she may be associated with,” police said.

Police now have an arrest warrant for Dowell, although as of Thursday afternoon she had not been located.

“We do not encourage anyone to confront Dowell,” police said. “We ask that persons with information in regards to the whereabouts of Dowell call the ECPD Investigations Unit at 510-215-4418. Callers with information can remain anonymous.”


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.