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Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 2, 2012

News Digest

Palo Alto police arrest three after tip

Palo Alto police arrested three people Monday, Feb. 27, after a resident reported suspicious behavior on Waverley Street near Oregon Expressway.

The resident noticed a vehicle occupied by two women and a man driving slowly through his neighborhood. He followed from a distance and saw the man get out, knock on a door, wait for a few seconds and then return to the car.

After seeing this at least three times, the resident returned to his house and called 911, citing recent media reports advising people to report suspicious behavior.

Officers located and stopped the vehicle in the 2600 block of Middlefield Road, finding the two women in the car. They later found the man, who was on foot and "under the influence of a controlled substance," at Oregon Expressway and West Bayshore Road.

In a search of the vehicle police said they found "burglary tools" (including pry tools and screwdrivers), as well as personal identifying information belonging to someone else. They also found an unopened UPS package with the shipping label ripped off, making them unable to determine origin or destination.

The three people were taken into custody and transported to Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose. They are Becky Davis, 39, Richard Sgambati, 33, and Rochelle Vasquez, 36, all of San Jose.

Davis and Vasquez were booked for possession of burglary tools and possession of identifying information belonging to another. Sgambati was booked for being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Sgambati also had been arrested in Palo Alto Dec. 11, 2011, for possession of burglary tools and stolen property after he was found with copper piping stolen from a business on East Meadow Circle.

Police said they are investigating possible links with other recent burglaries.

Those with information about this case are asked to contact 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent by text or voicemail to 650-383-8984.

Any resident who expected a UPS delivery Feb. 27 that was not received is asked to call 650-329-2413.

Palo Alto apartments, homes hit in eight burglaries

Palo Alto police are investigating eight residential burglaries and one attempted residential burglary — all reported during the day on Friday, Feb. 24.

Three of the burglaries occurred on the same floor of an apartment complex in the 300 block of Sheridan Avenue between 7:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., the police department stated in a press release.

Another three took place on the same floor of an apartment complex in the 400 block of Grant Avenue between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Another burglary occurred in the 1600 block of Portola Avenue and another in the 1100 block of Middlefield Road, both between 8:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

The attempted burglary occurred in the 1100 block of Hamilton Avenue, where a resident reported that someone had unsuccessfully attempted entry through a pet door between Feb. 22 and Feb. 24.

In the six apartment cases — all of which are in secured complexes that have locked interior hallways requiring a key for entry — the intruder or intruders pried open front doors and stole electronics and jewelry.

Electronics and jewelry also were taken in the Middlefield and Portola burglaries, in which entry was gained through rear doors. In one case, the door was unlocked, and in the other case entry was forced, police said.

Police said they have no suspects and are investigating the crimes and possible links to other burglaries reported in recent weeks.

Investigating officers have noticed trends in recent burglaries that may also have occurred in some of Friday's cases. The burglars often will ring doorbells to see if anyone is home.

If they learn that someone is home, they will move on to another residence. If they do not receive an answer at the door, they often will access a rear yard via an unlocked side gate.

This gives them private access to rear yards, where they often will pry or force open doors or windows to gain entry to the homes, police said.

Driver smashes through school wall at Addison

A young driver did several thousand dollars in damage to a building at Addison Elementary School on Saturday evening, Feb. 25, after she "panicked" and hit the gas pedal after backing into a tree, police said.

The 17-year-old female driver was backing out of a parking space at 650 Addison Ave. at about 9:08 p.m. when her SUV struck a tree, Palo Alto police Sgt. Rich Bullerjahn said. She shifted the car into drive and panicked, putting the gas pedal to the floor, he said. The vehicle crashed into the building, leaving an SUV-sized hole.

The building sustained substantial damage. A structural engineer would need to assess the damage, Bullerjahn said.

No one was injured and the SUV sustained moderate damage. Bullerjahn said because no alcohol or drugs were involved and the driver was inexperienced and had panicked, she was not cited.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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