Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 27, 2012

News Digest

Suspect arrested in Duveneck burglary

Palo Alto police arrested a man Tuesday (Jan. 24) who they believe burglarized a home in the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood Sunday (Jan. 22).

The suspect, 20-year-old Jose Rodriguez-Vasquez, was arrested early Monday morning after a resident in the 1600 block of Edgewood Drive called the police and reported hearing noises and seeing a flashlight outside. Police arrived and stopped Vasquez at Hamilton Avenue and Alester Drive, a block west of the Edgewood Drive home.

According to Sgt. Kara Apple, police linked Rodriguez-Vasquez to both the prowling incident and to a burglary that the department had investigated on Sunday. Police said that burglary occurred in the 1600 block of Hamilton, about a block away from the home on Edgewood. Homeowners were away for a few days, and when they returned they noticed that multiple electronic items had been stolen.

"The house had been rummaged through, and there were five items confirmed stolen," Apple said.

Officers served a search warrant Monday at Rodriguez-Vasquez's house in East Palo Alto and found several items from the Hamilton Avenue home. He was arrested and booked in the San Jose Main Jail for burglary and possession of a fixed-blade knife.

Apple said police used the serial numbers on some of the electronic items to confirm that they were stolen from the Hamilton Avenue home.

Man beaten, robbed at Stanford Shopping Center

A man in his 60s was beaten and robbed by several men — including one armed with a handgun — near the Macy's Men's Store at Stanford Shopping Center Wednesday (Jan. 25) afternoon, Palo Alto police said.

The victim was returning to his car shortly before 2:30 p.m. after visiting a jewelry store at the shopping center to get some jewelry appraised, police said. Several men then attacked and robbed the man as he was putting the jewelry in the trunk of his car. The assault occurred on the north side of the complex, police said. The men fled in a black Dodge minivan.

The victim and witnesses described the suspects as three or four well-dressed men, possibly Hispanic. The main aggressor, who was armed with a handgun, was described as being in his 30s with a goatee. He was wearing a hip-length black jacket, white slacks, black shoes and a black driving cap, according to witnesses. The victim sustained moderate injuries and was transported to a local hospital, police said.

The Palo Alto Police Department is asking anyone with information about the crime or who may have witnessed the robbery to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413 or email an anonymous tip to paloalto@tipnow.org.

Ten people escape East Palo Alto house fire

Ten people escaped from a house fire in East Palo Alto Monday (Jan. 23) afternoon, Menlo Park Fire District officials said.

The fire was reported at 4:53 p.m. and started in a storage unit behind the single-family home at 2240 Cooley Ave., quickly spreading to the back bedrooms and eaves, Battalion Chief Jim Stevens said.

Five engines and two battalion chiefs responded to the blaze. A large column of smoke was visible from the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.

Stevens said firefighters from Engine 2 launched an aggressive attack at the front door. Firefighters then set up attack lines along each side of the structure.

"They made the right decision and kept the fire from spreading to the rest of the building," he said of the decision to push the fire back from front to back. No one was injured.

"They were lucky this didn't happen while they were sleeping," he said. The cause is still under investigation.

The home sustained heavy smoke damage to the back wall and bedrooms. Losses are estimated at about $10,000 to $15,000, Stevens said.

Mountain View City Council passes smoking ban

It just got a lot harder to smoke in Mountain View.

On Tuesday night (Jan. 24) the City Council narrowly passed a ban on smoking near publicly accessible buildings and outdoor dining areas.

The new rules mean a $50 citation for smokers who stand within 25 feet of windows, doors — even cracks and vents in the walls — of workplaces, restaurants and any publicly accessible building where smoking is already banned. The council also put the kibosh on smoking within 25 feet of outdoor dining areas, including those at restaurants and picnic areas in public parks, where smoking is already banned within 30 feet of a playground.

— Daniel DeBolt

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