Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 5, 2011

News Digest

Gunn burglary suspects arrested, laptops found

Two laptop computers were recovered and two 18-year-old suspects arrested Wednesday (Aug. 3) in connection with a Gunn High School burglary two weeks ago, Palo Alto police said.

The arrests were the first in connection with a recent string of thefts that have hit four Palo Alto campuses, including Palo Alto High School, Jordan Middle School and Duveneck Elementary School.

Police said they are investigating whether the incidents are connected.

Alfredo Gonzalez of East Palo Alto was arrested for burglary, and Nayely Castillo, also of East Palo Alto, was arrested for possession of stolen property in the Gunn theft.

The classroom burglary occurred sometime during the night of July 21 or morning of July 22, police said.

Access was gained through an unlocked window, police said at the time. The two MacBook Pros were valued together at $2,200, they said.

"This burglary at Gunn High School was one of several break-ins in recent weeks that have targeted Palo Alto schools," the police department said in a statement.

"The Police Department realizes that students are the real victims in these burglaries and is working tirelessly to solve these crimes, recover stolen property and hold the responsible persons accountable."

In other recent school burglaries, which remain under investigation, five Apple MacBooks were missing following a July 28 window-smashing of a Jordan computer lab; six digital cameras were taken from Paly the weekend of July 23 and, in two separate incidents at Duveneck, computers and other digital equipment were taken July 8 or 9, and again July 25. The combined loss at Duveneck was estimated at $29,000, police said.

Anyone with information about the burglaries can call police at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org, and anonymous voice and text messages can be sent to 650-383-8984.

Final arrest made in brazen robbery outside bank

Gerardo Yepez-Soto, the final suspect wanted in connection with a robbery outside Wells Fargo Bank Monday (Aug. 1), was arrested in Redwood City Wednesday night by members of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office Gang Task Force, Palo Alto police announced Thursday.

Palo Alto police issued a multi-jurisdictional bulletin after identifying Yepez-Soto and "within hours" members of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office Gang Task Force, who were familiar with him, found and arrested him, police said in a statement.

In the 11:05 a.m. robbery, a female victim, an employee of McDonald's, was in the process of taking a cash deposit of several thousands of dollars from the business to the Wells Fargo bank at 505 California Ave. in Palo Alto.

As she neared the bank, a male, identified as Ismael Aquino-Flores, 20, of Redwood City, allegedly approached her and forcefully took her purse, police said.

Aquino-Flores fled to a waiting green Honda Accord. An associated silver Honda Civic, which was waiting nearby, also fled the scene.

A witness at the scene described the two vehicles. Palo Alto police fanned out and quickly caught up to both vehicles.

Police stopped the Civic at Greer Road and Tulip Lane and arrested Fabian Delgadillo, 21, of Redwood City.

The Accord was pulled over in Old Palo Alto, near the intersection of Coleridge Avenue and Cowper Street, police Sgt. Wayne Benitez said. Aquino-Flores was taken into custody.

Yepez-Soto, who was the driver, allegedly fled on foot through residential back yards. Police summoned a canine unit and a California Highway Patrol helicopter for the search and had cruisers positioned at major intersections around the neighborhood but were unable to find him.

Detectives said that the three suspects acted together to carry out the robbery. Yepez-Soto worked with the victim at McDonald's and allegedly had knowledge regarding when and where cash deposits were to be made, police said.

All of the stolen property was recovered and returned to the victim.

Palo Alto council clashes over compost measure

Palo Alto's environmentalists remain at odds over the future of local composting, but the leaders of the two sides in the heated dispute agreed on one thing Monday (Aug. 1) night — the language in the November ballot measure seeking to settle the dilemma is misleading and should be changed.

The measure asks voters if the city should undedicate a 10-acre section of Byxbee Park, in the Palo Alto Baylands, to enable the construction of a facility that would process local food waste and yard trimmings and produce energy.

The approved language reads, "Shall ten acres of existing parkland in Byxbee Park be undedicated for the exclusive purpose of building a processing facility for yard trimmings, food waste and other organic materials?"

Both sides found flaws with this wording, with some wanting to add the word "undeveloped" and others objecting to the word "exclusive." Neither proposal garnered the needed five votes to change the wording, leaving the ballot language unchanged.

— Gennady Sheyner

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