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Stay updated on recent Palo Alto burglaries

Original post made by Tyler Hanley, digital editor of Palo Alto Online, on Jun 27, 2006

Palo Alto police now say they didn't use the city's Teleminder system to alert Midtown residents of last week's car-jacking incident that led to a drag-net and search involving dozens of police from several jurisdictions. The police say by the time the system would have telephoned Midtown residents the information would be outdated. What do you think? See news story at Web Link

Find the latest information and comments here on the recent burglaries, the follow-up from the carjacking, and the armed robbery in Old Palo Alto last early last Saturday morning. Share your stories and opinions.

The comments below date back to the day of the search, Monday, June 26.

Comments (31)

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Posted by Irene
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2006 at 9:49 am

Given that the dirtbag had a gun but no one was injured, it could've been a lot worse. The police responded very quickly to both crime scenes & public safety seemed to be their priority, balanced with trying to find the suspect. There are so many places to disappear (including a creek) in the area where he crashed the second vehicle, it's no surprise he wasn't caught.


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Posted by Alan
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 27, 2006 at 9:55 am

We were not part of the police dragnet on Monday. But our home was robbed by an intruder at noon on Friday, June 23rd. We live on Charleston Rd near Hoover Elementary.

No one was in our house from 11:40 am till 12:10. During that brief time someone walked into the backyard, and crawled through the small bathroom window in the back of the house, which was slightly open and the only think unlocked at the time. My wife returned at 12:10 to find a computer and DVD player had been moved, but not taken yet. Then walked into to the bedroom and found the room just torn apart. Then in the bathroom found the window open and scuff marks on the floor. (We don't ware shoes in the house.)

While on the phone with the police she and our sone heard sounds in the garage. The police told her to get out of the house immediately. They arrived within two minutes to search the house and the neighboring homes. No one was found, but our son did see someone leaving the area in a car just before the police arrive. (Don't know if there is any connection but this person could have seen someone fleeing.)

That was on Friday (June 23rd). On Monday it appears a very similar robbery was tried, resulting car-jackings and man-hunt on Monday.

There seems to be a pattern of intrusion robberies taking place in South Palo Alto right now. Please note an unusual activity and help the Palo Alto police catch this person.


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Posted by Irene
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2006 at 10:22 am

Alan - glad all is ok with you & your family. Did the police fingerprint, and if so, have you been told if there are any suspects?

Not a good pattern happening. Burglars count on things like unlocked windows during the summer.


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Posted by Dipti Joshi
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2006 at 10:40 am

Not in the cordoned off area - but very very close. Watching the cops going around with the guns was quite unnerving - made us wonder how exactly we would react if the suspect were to show up in our backyard ( yes .. common sense is to call 911 ... but when such things happen so close to the home, it makes one wonder if we would have the presence of mind to react in the right manner ! )

The number of such reported incidents is on the rise. Though each of us, as individual homeowners, need to be careful - is there something that we can do as an entire community ?


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Posted by Joyce Fortson
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 27, 2006 at 10:41 am

We were also robbed on June 12. They stole over $20,000 dollars worth of items from our home. They entered through the doggie door in the middle of the day. I wonder if there is any way to let everyone in Palo Alto know this is going on. There was a house a couple of doors down that had the same thing happen 1 month prior. We posted brochures all over our neighborhood and received many calls. Everyone that called stated that they never even new that many daytime burglaries were occuring. There has to be something we can do!


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Posted by Lukas
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 27, 2006 at 11:10 am

I would much prefer watching the police walk around with weapons than the suspect.

For people concerned about the seeming rise in burglaries, demand of the police chief to hold public meetings, like they did after they killed the mountain lion. Perhaps there are neighborhood watch groups already organized that can be mobilized to do more.


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Posted by Sangeeta
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 27, 2006 at 12:49 pm

This was a very frightening experience for my son, who was in that area around 3:30pm, biking to his friend's house on Loma Verde and Greer. He saw cops with big rifles, dogs and could not make up his mind to go further or come back.

This incident makes me think if it is safe enough for kids to bike around in the neighborhood..

- Sangeeta


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Posted by Alan
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 27, 2006 at 1:58 pm

Irene - Yes they took prints from the laptop computer. Didn't hear how they turned out, but we don't move it much so they should be good. It really didn't sink in how serious this was until reading about the robbies on Monday and then finding out others have been robbed in the past.

I'm thinking the neighborhood associations are going to need to organize and encorage people to walk around your block at lunch or in the afternoon or something.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2006 at 2:48 pm

I came home from work driving south on Greer to be greeted by an officer carrying a shotgun and a helicopter hovering overhead. Definitely something you don't see very often, if ever, having lived in Palo Alto for over 15 years.

It seems like an incredible amount of resources were expended for an unsuccesful manhunt. 30+ officers, 4 K9 units, and a 5+ hour barricade with zero results. Was it even a realistic possibility to capture this man? I imagine it takes quite a bit of time to completely seal off such a wide perimeter. The cops I drove by seemed very bored and looked unenthusiastic; as if they knew that it was a pointless effort yet were doing it for reasons other than capturing the man. Maybe I'm extrapolating a bit too much.

Regardless, it is highly distressing that this recent 'crime wave' seems to completely elude police forces day after day.


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Posted by Dahlia
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2006 at 2:58 pm

Would you prefer the police NOT respond as strongly as they could? What is additionally distressing is that the police are not being as public and accessible about making info public on the recent "crime wave" and what people can do about it.


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Posted by Scotty
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2006 at 7:22 pm

I am wondering why the search was only focused south of Greer Park. We live on the north side of the park and had no idea that all of this activity was going on (except for the helicopter overhead). Was the suspect seen running south?


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Posted by Richard
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2006 at 10:39 pm

Kudos to the police for reacting in a positive and aggressive manner.
Our best protection when local crime is on the rise is to stay vigilant and communicate openly with one another. This web site is and ideal example of how we can share information. Thanks much to Palo Alto Online.
I saw a strange person parked curbside near my house and made a special effort to pass by him and make eye contact so that he knew I was at least aware of his presents. Then wrote down the license number just in case. This is not to say everyone who stops on the side of the road to eat there lunch, or kill time until there next meeting is a lurking criminal and we don't want to go to the extreme of being paranoid of every stranger we see but just be aware and vigilant.
It's also of great value to communicate with your neighbors and watch out for one another.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 29, 2006 at 3:52 pm

I've read the postings here. I'm very happy to know that we are all watching out for each other. Most if us don't even know one another. I'm keeping my eyes open for strange looking people more often now. I can't believe what Joe said. If something was happening to him maybe he would response differently. Remember these officers are keeping us safe. They are putting their lives in front of us. They have families to go home to just like us. I believe we need to thank the Palo Alto Police Department for looking out for us.


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Posted by Barb
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2006 at 9:43 pm

This may be irrelevant, but in the interest of being vigilent I want to share an odd thing that happened today. We had a man on crutches appear at our door late this afternoon, saying he operates a meat delivery service of some sort. As is common, I was busy with the kids and trying to get dinner going and just wanted to politely send him on his way, but after thinking about it some more it was pretty odd. He had no paperwork in his hands, did not offer to leave any information in case I changed my mind, and reaked of cigarette smoke (not a crime in itself, just not unusual).

I did not see a vehicle and he left on foot/crutches after stopping at our neighbors house as well.

Two questions: 1) Does anyone actually know of a meat delivery service currently operating in Palo Alto? 2) Has anyone else been approached by this person?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dipti Joshi
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 30, 2006 at 8:59 am

About a week / week & half ago there was a trailer/camper parked on Loma Verde between Maddux and Bayshore. Someone was living in the camper. They had plastic containers with their stuff underneath the camper (as if to get them out of the camper to make room)

We walk our dog in that area during the evening hours. This area of the road is quite deserted - since there is no one in the commercial properties around that corner. The camper sitting there did not make me feel very safe ... at times we saw two guys in a van parked next to the camper. One time these two were arguing very loudly.

I called the PAPD to report this incident. The first time I called, the officer who took my call tried to tell me to call another number to get the camper towed away. I explained to him someone was living inside the camper ... he said he would send someone to investigate. The next day I called again - this time, someone else from the neighborhood had called the cops a little before I did. By the time I called, they had an officer on the way who tagged the camper (3 day notice to tow). The camper was gone on the following day.

When I was watching the aerial views of the crashed car during the manhunt - I was very surprised to see this camper in the picture. They have moved to Colorado .. near the intersection of Bayshore. There are no houses in this area, its the empty patch of land right at the beginning.

Off an on you see a vehicle parked on the street for a prolonged time. We have been vigilant and have been calling PAPD to report these vehicles (after asking the neighbors if the vehicle belongs to them, ofcourse ! ).This is something to be aware of - and please do call PAPD immediately !

Thanks.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 30, 2006 at 9:13 am

Could increased policing in East Palo Alto be causing more crimes in Palo Alto?


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Posted by To Barb
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 30, 2006 at 12:09 pm

What's eerie about this - among other things - is that the man in San Mateo who killed his wife, daughters and then himself had a meat delivery business.

You could do an online search to see if this is a real business.

On the same day as the dragnet, we had a woman going around house to house asking for gas money AND flagging down cars. A neighbor called the police on the premise that if the woman's story was true - she and her kids ran out of gs - they would welcome the assistance of the police ;)


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Posted by To: Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2006 at 12:16 pm

I was thinking it may be more likely that the south PA burlgaries are a combination of convenience to the thief and the setup. A lot of the Eichlers have courtyards, gates and fences, so a thief can quickly dispappear from street and neighbor view to commit the crime.

During the time of the rapes in Palo Alto, several of which were on Middlefield, south PA female residents I know suddenly noticed how the privacy of their homes also meant that they could be more easily victimized.

Regarding E. Palo Alto - there is not that much of an increase in patrols. In fact, detectives are also patrolling due to the shortage of patrols available.


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Posted by Barb H.
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 4, 2006 at 9:05 am

Perhaps, as a group, we should discuss concerns and propose solutions at an upcoming City Council meeting? My husband and I are certainly being more conscious of suspicious behavior and are very vigilant about keeping an eye on our neighbors' homes (and they with us). To Jim's comments about the Eichler design enabling burglary, I agree and also think that the lack of AC in most of these homes makes them attractive. Most of us Eichler dwellers leave windows open for ventilation during the summer. From now on, mine will be sealed shut when I leave my home.

Thanks to PA Online for hosting ths board.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 4, 2006 at 9:48 am

There is a Midtown Residents Association meeting on July 18th at Friends Meeting Hall on Colorado @ 7:15pm. The focus will be Crime in our Neighborhood, with a presentation by Police Chief Lynne Johnson and information about the Neighborhood Watch program by Susie Jones, PAPD.


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Posted by Siona
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 4, 2006 at 12:09 pm

Ai. This issue makes me so sad. I don't like the idea of increased paranoia and suspicion, nor the idea of the police running around. I'm glad that the department is responsive, but I don't like the implication that this is a community that needs to be protected, or that needs heavy policing.

I love Alan's suggestion of organzing neighborhood walks, which would be nice for all manner of reasons (just getting to know your neighbors better could very well help the crime problem). I believe strongly, too, in the value of dialog - both of the sort happening in these online venues, and in general. It saddens me to think that we might end up becoming a more suspicious, more divided, and less helpful community as a result of this (what if the man on crutches really needed help?), and I do have hope that just engaging people in conversation - either strangers in the neighborhood about whom you might be worried, as well as those of us who do live here - will go a long way toward strengthening the community and eliminating these incidents.


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Posted by Remington 870
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 4, 2006 at 4:54 pm


Does anyone know where complete crime events and statistics for Palo Alto are compiled and published on a regular basis? Without data to trend, it's really hard to know if it's worth raising the "alert" status of a given neighborhood or community.

I also agree that the best method to increase safety is to organize with your neighbors and share information on peculiar visitors. Lock your doors and windows, even in the summer time.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2006 at 8:49 am

So it looks like all the anti gun people's worse nightmare is coming true...ban legal gun ownership and only the criminals will have guns. Ya'll better apply for your concealed carry permits!


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Posted by Johan
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 5, 2006 at 9:53 am

From the police dept's website:
National Night Out
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
6:30PM – 8:30PM

National Night Out is celebrating its 23rd annual nationwide event on Tuesday, August 1, 2006. It is designed to strengthen neighborhood spirit and unity, raise crime prevention awareness, and develop partnerships between the City and the community at every level. This is the 2nd year for the City of Palo Alto's participation in National Night Out. Community groups such as Neighborhood Watch groups, neighborhood and homeowner associations, PANDA members and other neighborhood groups interested in celebrating and strengthening their neighborhood connections are encourage to join us.

Hosting a National Night Out party is a simple way for people to meet one another, have fun and explore how they might work together to improve the safety and quality of their neighborhood. The City of Palo Alto encourages neighborhoods to organize block parties, a dessert party, ice cream social or barbecues to promote neighborhood unity. Click on this LINK to see a sample program for hosting a party as well as game ideas.

Groups of City of Palo Alto elected officials and employees, including police and fire department staff, will visit as many parties as possible. If you register early, you will increase the likelihood of receiving a visit.

To register your party, contact Community Policing, Community Service Officer, Susie Jones at (650) 329-2632 or email her at susie.jones@cityofpaloalto.org. The deadline to register is 5:00PM on Monday July 24, 2006. Only registered groups will be eligible for a visit.

Only registered groups will be eligible for a visit. You can also click on this LINK to go to PDF version of the registration form that can be filled out on line and either sent in as an email attachment, or you can print it out and send it in.

For a Block Party Permit application: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jocelyn Dong
associate editor of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Jul 5, 2006 at 5:18 pm

Jocelyn Dong is a registered user.

The Palo Alto Police Department has mapped the locations of residential burglaries, as well as burglaries and thefts from autos.

To see a map of residential burglaries in the city, from April 1 to June 30: Web Link

To see a map of auto burglaries and thefts from autos in the city, from April 1 to June 30: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by eric
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 7, 2006 at 3:03 pm

I think its a real shame that there were absolutely NO results for so much effort being put in place last week by the authorities to find the Greer Park suspect. The PAPD is so easily available to pull over a regular traffic violator (sometimes more than one police car hurries to the scene), treat them like they're a criminal for running a stop light or speeding, act like they've just captured a true criminal by activating their sirens and totally intimidating the driver---- yet when they're help is truly needed, such as last week, they miserably fail. True---- any traffic violation is just that and should be addressed, but the PAPD are way too aggressive with an old Grandma driving 40mph in a 25mph zone. Its too bad last weeks suspect got away. Thanks again PAPD for all your efforts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Friend
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 7, 2006 at 9:03 pm

Eric Are you a part of PAPD? Do you really know how this investigation has gone. I am sure your answer is No. I had a child hit by a "grandma" driving 40 mph in a 25 mph zone I can tell you I am glad that the police are out there writing traffic tickets.

Just remember every day these police officers put there lives on the line...even for people like you. I am pretty sure the minute your child chokes, you hear a strange noise outside of your house or you are just plain SCARED, you will call PAPD, and even though you have complained, they will still come and protect you and your family. I am proud of our police dept.


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Posted by Greer resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 8, 2006 at 12:53 am

I'm not surprised in the least that the suspect wasn't caught. I was returning home with a sleeping child to at about 1:30 and drove right past two police officers to the third who wouldn't tell me what was happening but actually suggested that it was okay for me to leave my son in the car while I walked in the house to "make sure everything was okay inside." Needless to say I drove him to another neighborhood to finish his nap and later received a call from a friend that the suspect had CARJACKED two cars.

Frankly, the officers I encountered didn't seem to have a clue how to secure a perimeter and I felt less safe knowing the suspect and inexperienced officers were going around the neighborhood with loaded weapons. A few hours later when my husband tried to return home from work, he wasn't allowed on the street which was then declared "safe" a little while later.

The word we received was that the canine unit was checking in each yard but later that it was actually too windy for the dogs to pick up a scent and that the police were checking for open windows. Call me crazy but couldn't the suspect enter through the window and then close it behind him? Hello!?!

I think the police need to get a better plan in place since this type of incident is on the rise and clearly could happen again.


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Posted by Hue
a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2006 at 11:46 pm

Dear "Greer Resident", what is the matter with you? Do you actually know what you are talking about or are you just an emotional female masking your fear an vulnerability with attacks on the police department?

Why were you "not surprised in the least that the suspect wasn't caught?" Do you know something that we all don't about the Palo Alto Police Department? How did you know that the officers you encountered were inexperienced? Did they tell you, or do you know them personally?

Don't act so smug and critical about something you obviously know little about. I think the tone of your posting, quite frankly, sucks. Palo Alto is one of the top police departments in the nation, and they hire a higher caliber of officers than other departments do.

Also, if the police did catch the suspect that night, would you retract anything you said about the police department? When all the facts are made known, make sure you spend as much effort in your praise of the police department as you did in your premature criticism.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2006 at 5:20 pm

Most of the time, the police cant tell who is driving with all the tinted windows and big SUV's nowadays. Maybe the crook is the one speeding 40 in a 25 to get away....hmm...now that's an idea.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JUST A NEIHBOR
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2006 at 9:57 am

WE CAUGHT 2 TEENS ENTERING OUR NEIHBORS HOUSE THROUGH A DOGGY DOOR
ACCORDING TO POLICE THEY WERE LOCAL KIDS AND HAD A HISTORY
I TOO THINK THAT WE MUST BE VIGILANT THE CREEKS THAT RUN THROUGH
THE AREA ARE USED AS PATHS FOR THIEVES I WATCH THE ONE NEXT TO
OUR NEIHBORS AND HAVE REPORTED PEOPLE WALKING THERE THE TEENS
WHO BROKE IN NEXT DOOR WALKED OUT THROUGH CREEK BUT WERE CAUGHT
ON OTHER BLOCK WHEN THEY CAME OUT A FEW NIGHTS AGO MY DOG
WAS GROWLING AND WE HEARD SOMEONE IN THE YARD THEY RAN AND QUICKLY
SPED OFF IN A CAR I LEAVE MY DOG OUT SIDE HE WAS A INDOOR DOG
BUT THEY OUR ARE BEST DETTERENT TO THESE THEIVES ! ALSO ME AND MY
WIFE TAKE WALKS AND HAVE SEEN MANY UNFRIENDLY NEIHBORS AND VERY
NICE ONES THAT LIKE TO STOP AND CHAT OR JUST SAY HELLO IM LATINO
BUT BORN IN SANJOSE MY WIFE IS HAWAIIN , WE LOVE THIS AREA AND
WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW WE TOO WATCH OVER AND ARE READY TO REACT
WHEN A SITUATION OCCURS WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY SO BE FRIENDLY TO
ALL DONT BE QUICK TO ASSUME AND TAKE TIME TO SMILE AND SAY HELLO!!


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