Residential burglaries in Palo Alto dropped significantly in April, due to a combination of increased crime-prevention efforts by residents and targeted enforcement by police, the Palo Alto Police Department announced Friday, May 4.
During April, residents reported only seven residential burglaries. The number is down substantially from the first three months of 2012. January had 21 burglaries, February had 22, and March had 31, police said.
Overall numbers for 2012 remain high, however, with 81 total residential burglaries during the first four months of 2012, as compared to 34 in 2010, and 43 in 2011.
During the first four months of 2012, officers and detectives have arrested 18 people for residential burglary or related offenses, such as possession of stolen property, prowling or possession of burglary tools. During the same time period, police arrested five people in 2010 and two in 2011.
Palo Alto police have made burglary prevention and burglar apprehension its top priorities. Patrol officers have been spending their time in neighborhoods when not otherwise assigned to calls for service, and two day-shift officers have been reassigned to work with burglary detectives. Those officers work specifically on burglary suppression, according to department officials.
Other resources, including plainclothes personnel, have also been reassigned to neighborhood burglary suppression as staffing permits. All of these efforts are continuing into May.
The department's "Lock It or Lose It!" public-education campaign, which debuted March 19, has focused on informing the public on how best to prevent burglaries, how to recognize suspicious behavior and how best to report suspicious behavior to police.
Police have encouraged residents to keep home doors and windows locked whenever they are out, and to lock side yard gates to prevent burglars from easily gaining entry to rear yards, where they are free to break into a home unnoticed by passersby.
Officers have also briefed several groups whose employees spend a substantial amount of time in the neighborhoods on how to recognize and report suspicious behavior. These groups include the United States Postal Service; staff from various city departments, including fire, utilities, public works, and parks; staff from large, private delivery companies; and personnel from GreenWaste of Palo Alto.
The department also launched a broad-based social media campaign and website, and are distributing a "Lock It or Lose It!" flyer in all May utility bills.
"While the April numbers are certainly encouraging, we don't want you to let your guard down," Lt. Zach Perron said.
"Burglaries, after all, are cyclical, and they are crimes of opportunity. We continue to ask that you report suspicious behavior immediately to 911, and we continue to encourage you to always secure your property whenever you're not home. If we keep working together like we've been doing these past six weeks, we're hopeful the burglars will get the message that Palo Alto homes are not easy pickings."
Anyone having information about any residential burglary can contact the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.
The Palo Alto Police Department is now using social media on Twitter (@PaloAltoPolice), Facebook (facebook.com/PaloAltoPolice), Nixle (nixle.com), and rBlock (rblock.com). News releases, crime-prevention tips and human-interest stories will be available.