A burglar or burglars struck the home in the 1600 block of University Avenue in the Crescent Park neighborhood at the height of Wednesday's morning downpour, according to Palo Alto police Officer Marco Estrada.
To gain entry, the burglar or burglars reached over a 6-foot-high side gate and fiddled with a lock until it opened, according to the resident, who detailed the burglary to the Weekly Thursday morning.
The burglars smashed a kitchen window and leapt up to enter (the window is higher than a usual first-story level). Jewelry and electronics of an undisclosed value were stolen.
"It took someone with athleticism," she said.
The resident said the aggressiveness of the break-in surprised her, both because the family had taken recommended precautions by locking their double-paned windows and gate and because the theft occurred at the height of a major storm.
"People think the bad weather will keep them away — I did — but the rain is not a deterrent. It was pouring during that period. The house was empty for only two hours," she said.
Residents need to be vigilant in order to stop the burglaries, she said.
"The only way to catch them is to have your neighbors watch out for each other," she said.
She said the lock was not cut but that the person had to spend some time trying to figure out a reasonably sophisticated locking mechanism.
Alert neighbors or passers by might have been able to notice the strangers at the gate, she said.
"They were standing in the side yard monkeying with the lock. It's not something that was done quickly," she said.
The victim said that people assume someone coming through a side gate is a worker, such as a gardener or repair person, but that might not be the case.
Anyone coming through a side gate should be suspect, especially if he or she is carrying something, she said.
"I just think right now I would take out my camera and take a picture if I saw someone coming from a side yard. I would say, 'I'm sorry, but my house was just burglarized,'" she said.
Vigilance is important to personal safety, she said. When her husband returned home, he noticed the gates were open and suspected someone might still be on the property.
The police investigation by the city's new burglary task force was thorough and highly professional, she said.
"We were very impressed by the officers who came out and how seriously they take this. They looked at every possible detail," she said.