A Palo Alto resident, alerted by his housecleaner, came home to find a man allegedly trying to steal his vehicle Monday afternoon, Nov. 12. Police then arrested the man, Axel Morales of Palo Alto, on several charges, including residential burglary and attempted vehicle theft, police announced Tuesday.
Police officers responded to a 9-1-1 call at about 1:42 p.m. regarding a residential burglary in progress on the 1800 block of Channing Avenue, between Greer Road and Rhodes Drive.
The resident, a man in his 40s, had received a telephone call from his house cleaner, who had arrived at the home to find a man rummaging through the house. The resident was nearby and returned to the house. He discovered Morales, 20, in the front seat of his vehicle, which was parked in the driveway. Morales was allegedly trying to start the resident's car, police said in a press release.
Morales was still inside the vehicle when police arrived. He allegedly refused to leave the car or comply with officers' instructions until a police canine unit arrived. Then Morales complied, and officers detained him for investigation.
No one was injured.
An investigation showed that Morales also had allegedly burglarized the resident's home two days earlier. That burglary was not initially reported because the resident was unaware that it had occurred.
Police were able to recover the property stolen in both burglaries and return it to the resident. The stolen property included jewelry and keys. In both cases, Morales allegedly entered the house using a hide-a-key that the victim had placed outside.
Police booked Morales into the Santa Clara County
Main Jail on two counts of residential burglary (a felony), attempted vehicle theft (a felony),
and tampering with a vehicle and resisting arrest (both misdemeanors).
Detectives are continuing to investigate whether Morales is connected to any other recent residential burglaries in Palo Alto.
Police are encouraging the public to close and lock doors and windows when leaving the home and to lock side-yard gates.
If meter readers need to access a utility meter behind a locked gate, residents can call Palo Alto Utilities Customer Service at 650-329-2161 to discuss options.
With regards to hide-a-keys, burglars often will search common hiding spots to find them. Residents should consider leaving a spare key with a trusted neighbor in the event they accidentally get locked out of their home, police said.
The Palo Alto Police Department's website has a section on crime prevention tips. There are pages on home security, recognizing suspicious behavior, being a good witness, and more.
The department also urges residents to become involved in the Block Preparedness Coordinator program administered by the City's Office of Emergency Services. Information about that program is available at www.paneighborhoods.org/ep. The next free training class, which teaches crime prevention and disaster preparedness, is on Thursday, Nov. 15.
Residents are encouraged to call 9-1-1 to report suspicious behavior and to allow the police
to investigate whether that behavior is innocent or criminal.
"It is always better to call and let the police do their job, rather than rationalize suspicious behavior and not call," police stated.
Police ask anyone having information about the recent residential burglaries, or this case in particular, to contact the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.