Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 30, 2013

Arrests made in Palo Alto thefts

Police also warn residents about 'doorbell-ring' burglaries

Even as Palo Alto police investigate two robberies that occurred this past week, the department announced the arrest of four men wanted in two other thefts.

The department also issued a warning to residents about "doorbell-ring" burglaries.

Chase Bank at 300 Hamilton Ave. in downtown Palo Alto was robbed Aug. 23 at about 5:40 p.m. The robber presented the teller a note demanding money and stating the robber had a firearm, according to police.

The robber's sex was undetermined. But witnesses described the person as about 5 feet 11 inches tall and around 160 pounds, with waist-length brown hair that witnesses described as "frizzy," police stated. The person was wearing a black top, khakis and a black baseball cap.

Chase Bank is one block from Palo Alto police headquarters.

Shortly after midnight on Aug. 27, a couple was robbed by two men, one armed with a handgun, at the Palo Alto Post Office on East Bayshore Road, police stated.

The couple pulled into the post office parking lot to mail letters, and as they returned to their car, a vehicle drove up. Two men got out and confronted them, with one pointing a black handgun and demanding their property. The husband gave them his wallet; the wife had nothing with her. Neither was injured.

The robbers were described as black men, one about 30 years old, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. The second was between 20 and 30 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and 170 pounds.

The department also announced some arrests. Christopher Mailau Vea and Patrick Tupoumalohi were apprehended Aug. 23 in East Palo Alto for the armed robbery of a man who was walking on Bryant Street in Palo Alto the night of Aug. 12. Palo Alto detectives used surveillance videos from a gas station where the two allegedly used the stolen credit card shortly after the theft.

Two men had approached the victim, pointed a black handgun at him and demanded he lie on the ground and give up items from his pocket, including his wallet, and a bag containing his laptop, police said. The victim was not injured.

Separately, officers arrested Victor Hugo Marin and Francisco Anthony Pinedo-Escalante, both 18, on suspicion of an Aug. 12 home burglary. The two men allegedly had stolen property on them — a laptop, jewelry, passports and birth certificates.

Detectives believe that Pinedo-Escalante is also responsible for another robbery on Channing Avenue, during which a handgun and jewelry were taken.

The latter incident prompted police to warn residents about a tactic would-be burglars use to assess whether a home is empty. Burglars ring front door bells, posing as a solicitor or visitor, to see if anyone is home. Once they determine the house is empty, they go to the relative privacy of the house's yard, usually by way of an unlocked side gate, to find a way to break in, police stated.

Police are encouraging residents to lock side gates and all doors and windows whenever their house is empty. If an unknown visitor rings the doorbell, police say, residents should speak through the door or find another way to acknowledge that someone is home.

Anyone with information about any crime can contact the police department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent via text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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