Police: Student lockers breached at Paly

Intruder used bolt-cutters to enter fenced area and open about 100 lockers over the weekend

An intruder or intruders used bolt cutters to enter a fenced area and open approximately 100 lockers at Palo Alto High School, according to Palo Alto police.

The entry occurred between Friday, March 30, and Sunday, April 1, when a teacher reported the situation, Palo Alto Police Agent Marianna Villaescusa said.

Paly students and staff vacated the campus for spring break after school Friday and are scheduled to return Monday, April 9.

Villaescusa said nothing has been identified as missing because "everybody's out for the holiday." She said she did not know whether a security patrol had been operating on campus over the weekend. The police have no suspects, she said.

Chris Kenrick


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Posted by cameras?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Outdoor lockers with no surveillance cameras? Who's bright idea was that? I hope kids are smart enough not to leave anything in there overnight.

Of course, the crooks are probably Paly students. Did they target their friend's lockers or just random ones?

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 3, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Gee, we never had surveillance cameras on the outdoor lockers at Cubberley. Must have been a more civilized society back then, or maybe just a better neighborhood.

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Posted by Where's-The-Measure-A-Money?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2012 at 6:49 pm

There was supposed to be money for surveillance and other security equipment in the Measure A Bond ($375M). However, people like Camille Townsend was opposed to the idea, for reasons that only she seems to understand.

Sadly, the oversight of this Bond is marginal, if at all.

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Posted by really?
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Probably just someone looking for scraps. I mean, who would leave anything valuable in a school locker over spring break? Kids are working on serious assignments over the break...I hope

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Posted by Elementary MDW
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 4, 2012 at 10:55 am

Simple: the police just need to check Craigslist for a sudden influx of used Trigonometry textbooks posted for sale cheap, and BAM, there are your perps!

I'm sure surveillance cams are expensive, but it does seem warranted at least in the areas where the schools keep computers (especially laptops and ipads [why are they critical to learning again? Oh yeah cause some consultant or vendor says the most expensive, easy-to-steal, and easy-to-break technologies are the best]. Thefts of those at many schools are frequent and costly, and must put a big dent in the curriculum for a while.

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Posted by Cameras
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 4, 2012 at 11:15 am

Cameras are only useful if they are monitored 24x7. Who is going to do that? Volunteers? Otherwise, the criminals wear dark clothing and keep their faces out of view (this is why hoodies are frequently worn!), and so how will you identify them and know where they are after-the-fact? Video is only useful in real-time - marginally useful after-the-fact.

Been there, done that.

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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 4, 2012 at 12:13 pm

The criminals managed to open 100 lockers without leaving any fingerprints?

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Posted by Anon
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm

@Cameras, you do realize technology has advanced past what they show in the movies with a security guard watching a bank of monitors with a donut in hand. Software can selectively record camera footage when motion is detected, cutting down the amount of time required to process footage of a crime. Cameras would have almost definitely helped in this situation.

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Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Locker break-in's and thefts at Palo are nothing new, they have been happening on a regular basis all year; from what I hear especially inside the Gym locker-rooms. My son has taken to keeping his gym clothes in one of his teacher's class-rooms for "safe-keeping." This is ridiculous... but how many times must one replace athletic shoes, etc., we can't afford to. Many parents have complained many times about this to the administration at Paly.... pleading for them to do something about this... but they have chosen not to. Loss of property by students is not high on their priorities obviously. Of course if the break-in's involved school property or personal property of the teachers and administration, then maybe they might start doing something about it. Vexed

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Posted by amazed
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 4, 2012 at 1:54 pm

They are called gloves....

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Posted by evol
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm

security cameras are evil. if youre watching someone on cameras ,you are a peeping tom. at stores etc. they probably laugh at people and watch women and make comments about them.

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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

With the advent of new technology, a bored guard munching donuts over a bank of B/W TV monitors is passe.

Just ONE PC with 4 security video cards using today's software can MOTION DETECT and start recording on any one of 64 CAMERAS in 640x480 mode IN FULL COLOR! I know, I have several of these cards with standard BNC cable connectors. With the storage today, a TB drive can handle WEEKS of camera data!

With NEWER technology, you can go WIRELESS with AUDIO. Cameras are about $50 wholesale and they have Internet capability. That ability used to only exist at high security areas like casinos. Now you can have it cheaply applied anywhere.

Either way, there is no excuse to not have the camera setup THAT DOESN'T NEED PEOPLE TO WATCH IT!!!

I won't even get into the automated ROBOT SECURITY GUARDS that are being offered to the general public. Jails have had these systems for over a DECADE. I know, I helped build them....

It looks like the modern day thug has gone wholesale & not retail when it comes to school lockers. We used to deal ( in the vice principals office ) in onesy, twosy break-ins every year when I was in school in SC/Mtn View...

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 5, 2012 at 11:55 am

@ the_punnisher

And just what did you plan on doing with video of a couple shadowy figures with their faces obscured?

Only a monitored alarm would have been effective - but outdoor alarms are susceptible to false alarms.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Can't help feeling that this was an inside job, but they must be idiots because students won't be silly enough to leave valuables in lockers over Spring Break, or would they?

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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

@ the_punnisher

And just what did you plan on doing with video of a couple shadowy figures with their faces obscured?

Only a monitored alarm would have been effective - but outdoor alarms are susceptible to false alarms.

You are pretty ignorant when it come to modern security. There is no longer " shadowy figures ". With NO work, the cameras have the same resolution your desktop PC has. With new " enhanced " video software and IF THE COPS ARE WILLING TO SOLVE A CRIME, details can be shown. Adding audio gives you a VOICEPRINT to make the DA's job even easier.

We have had SPY SATELLITE TECHNOLOGY that can read A LICENSE PLATE FROM SPACE FOR DECADES, some of those spysats were built in the Blue Cube..

So don't make excuses on subjects that show your ignorance of the facts.

Security systems are cheap IF YOU DIY...

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Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 6, 2012 at 1:45 am

"And just what did you plan on doing with video of a couple shadowy figures with their faces obscured?"

Well, they could have gotten a better estimation of the time the crime was committed, which might help with the investigation. They could ask for people who were in the area during that time to come forward. They could have seen how many people were involved, their relative sizes, where they came from and where they went, and if a camera happened to cover their approach to the school perhaps a rough idea of hat kind of car they drove. They might have seen items that were touched that might have retained fingerprints. They could have told if any other areas of the school were hit besides the lockers.

Surveylance systems that simply record a month's worth of timestamped video from a bunch of cameras are not expensive, easy to set up, and can easily yield usable information. A minimal system should be a no-brainer. Think of the information that could be gain about fights in the hall (who hit who first?) and who set off the fire alarm.

And do you really thing the people who commit crimes like this are smart enough to take reasonable precautions? As a rule, I doubt it. It's a dumb thing to do, so pretty much I expect dummies to do it.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 6, 2012 at 9:12 am

This is one more thing that makes life difficult for high school students here in town. My family member, who is a student at Gunn, has never used a locker there as they are constantly broken into. Instead, he carries around a very heavy backpack. This makes it dangerous to ride a bike, and very compelling to drive a car to school in order to have a place to store his sports equipment, food, extra clothing, etc. The fact that the administration does nothing about all this theft, including bicycle thefts, is disappointing. I agree that if employees were being robbed and inconvenienced, there would be a great uproar! I agree that security cameras could be helpful. Also, I hope these thieves found nothing but old sandwiches and dirty gym socks.

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Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

Are locker and bicycle thefts really that frequent an occurance at the high schools?

Your family member, I would say, is lucky to be big and strong enough to heft a heavy backpack containing all his books and supplies. What about the smaller students, the petite girls, who are just as exposed to thefts but unable to lug that much weight around? I have heard also that too much lugging of heavy backpacks is a health threat, bone and joints. It sounds to me like the kids are faced with an unworkable situation, and somehow the schools need to provide better security for them.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm

The high school locker system is not a very easily utilized method to help our modern high school students.

The lockers are all in the same area of school and not always close to students first or last classes, or close enough for students to use in the 5 minute passing period. They are not accessible outside school hours so not a good method of taking homework projects the evening before, or leaving things until after any after school activity.

In other words, they are not useful for many students - even those of small stature or who need to use them for anything other than daytime school use. The students in our family do not have them as they wouldn't be of any use.

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