PALO ALTO RESIDENT WITH WEBCAM WARNS OF INTRUDER ... A tech-savvy homeowner on Tennyson Avenue in Palo Alto used a webcam to record footage of a suspicious man taking pictures of his house and apparently trying to open his front door Feb. 4. The morning incident in the 400 block of Tennyson surprised the resident, who reported the situation at 10 a.m. to Palo Alto police and emailed a warning to neighborhood leaders.
THE GRINCH STOLE THE SUKKAH, THEN CHRISTMAS ... All Abraham Berman wanted to do was put up his homemade sukkah (a small both with curtain walls, a bamboo roof and ornaments dangling from the ceiling) on the second-floor patio of Sheridan Apartments in Palo Alto. But despite his 11-year tradition, the Palo Alto Housing Corporation nixed his effort to celebrate the Feast of Sukkot in October, citing its ban on personal objects in public areas. The nonprofit that manages his apartment complex then banned all religious symbols in public spaces — including the Christmas tree, which was never Berman's aim. "I'm not here to disturb anybody or to violate any rules," Berman said. "I'm just trying to create a 'house of peace' — that's all I want to do."
HALLUCINOGENIC-MUSHROOM SALE GOES AWRY ... A Palo Alto teen's attempt to purchase hallucinogenic mushrooms ended in a robbery and his being punched by three other youths on June 8, a Palo Alto police spokesman said June 16. The 16-year-old victim met up with the three youths, ages 15, 16 and 17, at about 9:30 p.m. in the 3000 block of Ventura Court, which is between Ventura Avenue, Park Boulevard and El Camino Real, to purchase the mushrooms. He was robbed of his money and cell phone during the transaction, police Detective Sal Madrigal said.
ROBBER STOPS AT STARBUCKS, READS NEWSPAPER, GETS NABBED ... Mountain View police arrested a man June 17 just a few blocks from the bank they allege he had robbed about a half hour earlier. Lawrence Petitta, 53, was taken into custody inside the Starbucks located at 750 Castro St. — where a plainclothes detective found him reading a newspaper less than 30 minutes after employees of the California Bank & Trust, located around the corner at 700 W. El Camino Real, reported they had been robbed by an individual matching his description, Mountain View police spokeswoman Liz Wylie said.
DRIVER FOLLOWS GPS, GETS STUCK ON CALTRAIN TRACKS ... A woman driving a Toyota Corolla got stuck on the Caltrain tracks near East Meadow Drive in Palo Alto July 20 when she made a wrong turn onto the tracks, Caltrain spokeswoman Tasha Bartholomew said. The woman was apparently following directions on a GPS device when she inadvertently turned onto the tracks at approximately 9:40 p.m., Bartholomew said. When the woman realized her error — about 20 to 25 feet down the train right-of-way — she attempted to turn the car around, at which point the frame of the car got stuck on the tracks, Bartholomew said. The driver flagged down passersby and asked them to call 911.
BOMB SQUAD CLOSES PALO ALTO STREET ... Discovery of a World War II-era Japanese mortar forced the closure of part of Grove Avenue in Palo Alto on Oct. 3. Hal Knowlton, 87, found the 3-inch-diameter shell while cleaning his garage. He took the mortar outside and set it on the planter box, then returned to his home to call police, he said. Police closed off the 3800 block of Grove and notified nearby residents of the quiet street they might have to evacuate. The Santa Clara County Sheriff's bomb squad arrived and dismantled the mortar, which Knowlton estimated was about 9 to 10 inches long.
THREE CARS CRASH INTO ANTHROPOLOGIE ... Three vehicles swerved into the Anthropologie clothing store at 999 Alma St. in downtown Palo Alto Nov. 4 shortly after 8 a.m., startling two managers who were preparing to open the store, a manager said. The vehicles were traveling northbound on Alma and narrowly missed striking the store's wooden front door. One of the vehicles exited Alma, mounted the planting strip and sidewalk on the southeast corner of Addison Avenue and drove across the street and up the sidewalk in front of the store, hitting a retaining wall and planter in front of the building to the right of the door.