News

Palo Alto residential burglaries fall in April

Police credit resident reporting and combined police efforts with drop in crime

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 paloalto@tipnow.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.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 4, 2012 at 10:49 am

Good Job PAPD!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2012 at 10:57 am

Yes. I went to the community meeting by PAPD last month and it was very helpful. Good job PAPD1


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I found PAPD's link on FB, but they haven't posted anything. Nor, can anything be posted. Soooooo...what's the point?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by 911 Dispatcher
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I reported suspicious activity in my Old PA neighborhood last week and the dispatcher only wanted to talk about the "civil rights" of people. I told her that 2 men were hiding in a car in front of a construction site (after construction had ceased for the day). I did not mention the race of the men or the type of car they were driving. But, instead, I got a lecture on "stepping on the civil rights of people." The dispatcher, Lisa, was rude and tried to intimidate me. I thought we were supposed to report suspicious activity. I guess the police only want to be called if you see a robber with stolen goods in his arms. I was furious and hung up.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I reported some unusual foot and bike traffic in our neighborhood, as our street is not a cut through or a destination point, and a female dispatcher essentially told me to call back if I saw them doing anything 'suspicious'. I understand that merely passing through a neighborhood on a bicycle isn't a crime, but when it's done more than once by the same person, and the person on foot is not acting like most others do when walking down the street, AND there were auto burglaries on said street that week, I would think that a report like that would go into some database somewhere, denoting more activity in that area and maybe, as manpower allows, warrant stepped up patrols. If we only reported when people were doing something 'suspicious', which is a broad term that could describe a person simply casing a property or actually dressed up like a Ninja and jumping over a fence, then in most cases, given response time, it would be too late anyway. The dispatcher did not lecture me on civil rights, which is a good thing, because I would have filed a complaint. Educating me on her beliefs is not part of her job, and I would have been definitely irate to make the call and being on the receiving end of that b.s. On the other hand, I have lived in this City for 38 years and can tell you that most people treat our cops and City personnel like indentured servant. There should be a happy medium.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Facebook
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm

To Enough!, with regards to PAPD's Facebook site: make sure you are looking at the *correct* PAPD Facebook site: /PaloAltoPolice. They actually have quite a few posts and photos up there, and you are able to leave comments. Here's the actual link: Web Link

Apparently there are a few other "Palo Alto Police Department" place pages that others have created, but those are different from the authorized page maintained by the Police Department. Those place pages have no content posted, and you are not able to leave comments there. Look for the one with the police patch over the American flag - that's the official one.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 4, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Thank you Facebook :D


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Olivia
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm

When our neighborhood suffered a couple of burglaries recently, neighbors got together to help two well placed homeowners buy and install video surveillance equipment. Now should suspicious activity occur, our neighborhood will have a 24/7 time-stamped video record of how it developed from a couple of angles plus a pretty good description of the suspects and any vehicle they may have been using.

As we get more adept at using this equipment, we may learn some ways to improve our own security and that of our neighbors. Working together on this Neighborhood Watch project has brought several of us together on a common goal that makes us feels like we are doing something good for our families and the whole neighborhood.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Everyone should use a blocker board that only allows a sliding window or door to open so much as needed for fresh air (but narrow enough as to not to allow a person coming through). For burglars, it is very easy to open sliding door or windows. I learned this when living in another town with frequent theft incidents..


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Everyone should use a blocker board that only allows a sliding window or door to open so much as needed for fresh air (but narrow enough as to not to allow a person coming through). For burglars, it is very easy to open sliding door or windows. I learned this when living in another town with frequent theft incidents..


 +   Like this comment
Posted by george
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 4, 2012 at 8:01 pm

A dispatcher must treat every caller with the same respect. "Lisa" was way off base as was the other dispatcher reported by Enough.

You must report this to the police dept. Lt. Bob Bonilla is in charge of personnel. Send an e-mail to robert.bonilla@cityofpaloalto.org or zach.perron@cityofpaloalto.org


 +   Like this comment
Posted by good going
a resident of Downtown North
on May 4, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Good going Palo Altans. You have looked out for each other in cracking down on scumbags.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2012 at 8:49 am

> I got a lecture on "stepping on the civil rights of people."

I also have been treated in a similar fashion on at least two occasions by the 911 operator. I think that people should start to file complaints with the Police if they are treated with anything but respect and professionalism.

Most of us don't call 911 very often. But when we do, we don't expect to be treated badly. We expect to convey information to the authorities about some condition that might well need an immediate response from the police, or fire department.

People should use the on-line reporting form for conveying information to the police that might be of interest to them, but that does not involve an immediate response.

If the 911 operators are not on the same page as the police, enough complaints might bring that fact to the attention of the police chief.

It also might be helpful if the police were to post 911 recordings on their web-site, redacting any personal information with "bleeps". With the public being able to listen to how these people interface with the public, it's quite possible that the level of service for 911 operators could be improved. At the very least, it could be better understood by the public.



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