Selfies lead to arrest of accused phone thief

A woman who allegedly punched and robbed a high school student last month in El Cerrito and took selfies on the victim’s stolen cellphone has been arrested after the photos were later used to identify her, police said.

Police said Tasja Dowell, 18, of Richmond, surrendered at the Martinez Detention Facility in connection with an incident that occurred on Central Avenue near Clayton Avenue on Nov. 5.

At 12:42 p.m. that day, Dowell allegedly punched an El Cerrito High School student in the head, knocking her unconscious, after she refused to hand over her cellphone and backpack, according to police.

Dowell is suspected of taking those items, and later using the cellphone to take selfies that were uploaded into the victim’s online cloud storage account, police said.

The victim recognized her assailant from those pictures, police said.

After releasing one of the photos and asking for the public’s assistance in solving the case, police on Nov. 19 said they identified Dowell as a suspect and had a warrant out for her arrest.

She was arrested this past Friday after turning herself in, police said.

Police said the case will soon be presented to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.