Some Palo Alto residents are forming a new neighborhood watch group and starting nighttime citizen patrols to help deter potential auto and residential burglars. The effort is being started by Debra Baldwin of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood.
Baldwin was the victim of an auto burglary earlier this year and she helped spark a neighborhood crime meeting hosted by Mayor Judy Kleinberg last month.
Now, Baldwin and others are forming a neighborhood watch group and signing people up to drive around the neighborhood in one- or two-hour shifts from midnight to 5:30 a.m.
In an e-mail to neighbors, Baldwin said that "our streets are very dark and very quiet, it is way too easy for a burglar to do what they do here. Let's make it harder for them."
A recent auto theft from a driveway on Ivy Lane at 1 a.m. June 7 and a residential burglary on a nearby street, also last week, has prompted increased concern over home and auto burglaries.
Home burglaries have increased in Palo Alto this year, with 91 through May 4 compared to 52 in the same time period last year. There was also a spate of auto burglaries in late April.
Karen White, president of the Duveneck/St. Francis Neighborhood Association, said she was gratified that Baldwin is organizing the neighborhood effort. White said that she and others hope to meet with Police Chief Lynne Johnson to revitalize the neighborhood-watch program on a citywide basis.
"I am alarmed and frankly frightened by the type of criminal activity we have seen in Palo Alto recently," White said. "It's time for residents to band together to increase public safety."