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Police hunt Palo Alto burglars, find stolen property

Original post made on Mar 23, 2012

An alert resident that witnessed a residential burglary in progress called 911 Thursday morning, enabling Palo Alto police to chase the pair of thieves and recover the stolen property from their abandoned getaway car.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 23, 2012, 9:38 AM

Comments (32)

Posted by Marshall, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2012 at 10:10 am

This is another example of how a regionalized police force can work together effectively. We see elements of Palo Alto, Redwood City and Mountain View reacting to a problem rather quickly, and in this case, successfully enough to thwart the criminals' ability to escape with the stolen property.

Hopefully there are fingerprints on the property, and in the car, that makes short work of the investigation that will follow.

Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Menlo Park are just too small to be able to deal with crimes where the criminals leave the jurisdiction within minutes of commission of the crime. Merging these police departments would provide a big boost in the man power to deal with specific problems, by allowing these resources to be assigned over larger geographic areas.

At any rate, this was indeed a job well done by all involved.

Posted by PA Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2012 at 10:52 am

Marshall: LAH does not have their own police department, they rely on the Santa Clara Sheriff's department for law enforcement.

Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 23, 2012 at 11:28 am

So we know the thieves work at Google...

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 23, 2012 at 11:53 am

Instructions to people involved:
To the owner of the burgled home: Buy your neighbor who reported the crime a 6-pack of beer. Oh, wait, this is PA, okay a bottle of wine.

To the neighbor who reported the crime: Pat yourself on the back for me and consider a job well done. Sleep well tonight.

To the PA and Mountain View police: Pat yourselves on the back too, but keep the heat on those thieves. We want them. But I do thank you for being there for us.

To the thieves: Cower in fear if discovery and pray you escape, while most others on this board, including myself, pray for your capture. Consider another, more honest, way of making a buck, if you manage to escape.

To the abandoned car: Give up your secrets to the nice police unit that will be going over you.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm

How was this car able to get away twice from chasing police cars? Why didn't the police turn on their siren, follow them and call for backup? These guys will be back at it before you know it. Kudos to the neighbor, way to go in reporting this quickly.I'm carrying my iPhone around with me at home now so I can photograph any stranger who comes to my door or a neighbor's door.

Posted by Marshall, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2012 at 12:26 pm

> Marshall: LAH does not have their own police department, they
> rely on the Santa Clara Sheriff's department for law enforcement

You miss the point. LAH has need of a police force, so they use their money to contract out. The point of my posting is that they could just as easily join with their neighbors (the cities listed) to create a localized force that combines the dollars, and police assets to deal with issues that are close to home.

On the other hand, LAH has demonstrated that it is too small to create, and run, its own police force, and that regionalization is acceptable to them.

Posted by PA Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Since there are almost no home invasions in LAH whatever would be the incentive for them to help support PA, Menlo Park, Mountain View and Los Altos Police Depts. LAH is happy with their one cruising sheriff's Deputy. I lived in LAH for 13 years and never heard of a break-in.

Posted by Marleen, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm

My house was burglarize last week. It isn't a pleasant experience. I can assure you. My own garden tools were used to break open a window. All windows and doors were locked. And still...
I wish one of my neighbors had spotted the thieves and called it in. But we all have to work. I do wish that the Mountain View police had followed the car with sirens screaming. Maybe there is hope that this rash of burglaries will end soon. I have great respect for the Palo Alto police.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Ventura
on Mar 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm

> I do wish that the Mountain View police had followed the car with sirens screaming.

MVPD did for a little while. The Lexus was driving on the sidewalk at one point and was using the road shoulders to avoid the police, weaving in and out of traffic on 101. Since the only crime was residential burglary, department policy limits the officer's options. MVPD, PAPD and RWCPD spent nearly 2 hours looking for the suspects, but weren't (yet) successful.

Seems like police dogs are a great help in these kind of incidents. It's too bad many departments have cut back on this area. PAPD used to have a few more and I'm sure they could use them now.

Posted by Bill K, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Again, in the interest of full diasclosure, I'm a former Mid-town resident.

Seems like my old neighborhood is being hit (lived on Stelling Dr., just off Clara)

My question is did any of these homes have alarms that sound (and frequently spook the bad guys) when a window breaks or a door is pried open?

Police here in Phoenix respond within 5-6 minutes to an alarm (after 2 false alarms in a year you pay a stiff fine) and that's in a LARGE city. PA response time should be half that, especially with the police on high alert for burglaries. I pay just north of $20 a month for a complete system with central monitoring

Here everyone locks gates and we have 6-7 foot block walls around yards. When everyone does the fencing in the same hue it looks nice. Floodlights that illuminate at night when "large movenments" are detected in the yard and stay on for a minute or two are another
technique burglars abhor.

We also are eyes for our neighbors. My neighbor across the street would approach any suspicious type and ask what was going on ...I'd do likewise.

We live in one of the nicer older neighborhoods (30 year old homes here are old!) in N. Phx, but burglaries are down in our area (but not the whole city).

With unemployment high and many bad guys believing we have what they might fence quickly, burglarly is a threat in all but the most rural, isolated areas.

Regional PDs make sense, but here each city has one because we have few small, "compact" cities in the sprawling Valley of the Sun.

I hope you are able to take protective actions to protect your homes one by one.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm

The police have to balance public safety w/chasing bad guys. For a property crime, public safety should & does win over catching property crime bozos.

Fairmeadow victim - so sorry to read what happened to you - I've been through it. Do you have a dog? They're wonderful deterrents if kept in the house.

There is a lot of privacy even on Louis in that area. One can get away w/being pretty darn furtive, obviously. Who wants to keep their gates locked all the time, especially when they're easy to get through in a fire or other emergency. But it IS a deterrent.

Posted by C, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2012 at 12:26 am

Unfortunately, we are all under surveillance by the crime network on a daily basis.. Who would have known where the tools are, unlock windows and gates.. Lock It but you still Lose It!

Posted by siree, a resident of Southgate
on Mar 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm

yes ,we are uder surveillance by a crime network known as the police and spies!

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Lock it and you might still lost it, perhaps, but you still stand a better chance of not becoming a victim if one keeps their doors and windows secured. A burglar will usually choose the path of least resistance. It's also important to keep your side gates locked as well. Windows and doors facing the street are rarely targets for entry due to the visibility and risk of being seen by a neighbor or passerby. Burglars count on being able to simply slip through an unlocked side gate and go about their business without being seen.

If you're home, and a stranger knocks on the door, try to address the person from behind the safety of a locked door or window. Burglars will frequently knock on doors to see if anyone is home. The vast majority are hoping that there is no sign of anyone present so they can commit their crime without risking a confrontation or being identified. If someone does answer the door, they can easily mask their intentions by saying that they are trying to locate a friend they thought lived there, or offering to provide some service like gardening or whatever. When leaving your home unattended, it's not a bad idea to leave a radio turned on to give the impression that someone might be home. This is just one simple and inexpensive step that people can take to help safeguard their homes.

Short of building a fortress or maintaining a 24-hour security presence, there are no 100%, crime proof measures that people can take to protect their homes. However, combining several different measures can certainly reduce the possibility.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm

"yes ,we are uder surveillance by a crime network known as the police and spies!"

Pretty much, the only ones who really feel threatened by police and "spies" are those comitting acts those police and "spied" might find unacceptable. If that is your problem, I suggect you get smart and knock it off and stop setting yourself up for life-destruction through discovery.

For my part, I am rooting for the "police and spies" and the stopping of illegal parasites and preditors that would seek to victimize me, my family, my friends, and other good people I don't even know.

If the police are the "bad guys", who are you going to call when you are in trouble? Your local thief, thug, or pusher? Good luck with that.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm

LOL, you watch too many movies Siree. Continue to worry about spies and such, I'll focus on the burglars, robbers, and thieves that sometimes plague our community.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm

The police don't care about crime Ulysses? Can't agree with you there. The Palo Alto force has made numerous highly publicized arrests in recent months, all with less staffing and resources. They have arrested several dangerous robbers, burglars, and drug dealers, recovered stolen property, and done so without being disabled by fear which you seem to suggest. Their task is much more challenging than most people think, and one that most of us would either be unwilling or qualified to take on.

As far as caring about their paycheck, my first response is OK, who doesn't. I also believe that people that become police officers don't do it to get rich. More of a calling I'd say, but certainly not to get rich. I'm also quite certain that they would much rather focus entirely on the "real criminals" you refer to, but unfortunately, I suspect their task gets interrupted at times because they have to deal with some irresponsible, stupid drunk. That's the reality of thing. Having to deal with a myriad of problems and crimes, all the while having to balance it out to an often time uninformed, critical public.

Posted by thanx, a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm

the dumbness of these people is amazing. apparently you dont read much. the same drunks are always harassed while you are getting robbed! guess a drung crashed out on a bench is more priority that the silver pistol incidents. great, you arent afriaid of ''real criminals''. you must be happy! have a nice day! it's okay to be ignorant. people will rtecognize it!v

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Not exactly sure what your point is Thanx, but assuming that you're referring to my post, then yes, I do read extensively and keep up on local news. Personally, I am very afraid of the so-called "real criminals", and I'm sure the police also have to deal with a certain level of fear and cautiousness. The point is it doesn't seem to prevent them from having made many arrests in recent months of some serious criminals for committing burglaries, drug dealers, and robberies. I'm also confident that they do prioritize their time and focus on the serious offenders. Unfortunately, they still have to manage and cope with all of the lesser offenses that might not pose a danger necessarily, but still effects our overall quality of life. At times that does include the irresponsible alcohol or substance abuser that passes out on a bench. The responsibility of the police is to deal with all of these problems, and rather than faulting them, try using your energy to discourage these lesser offenders of engaging in behavior that draws a police response. What a concept huh? You criticize the police. I choose to expect more from people.

Posted by Cora, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Burglary is a serious crime! Burglars enter your house and who knows what other crimes they would commit if they encounter the residents. The fact that several police cars spotted the suspects was encouraging. But the follow up chase was completely a wimpy operation. Maybe our city police officers need a refresher training.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm

It's not a training issue Cora or unwillingness to chase on the part of the police. Nearly all police agencies throughout the state are not allowed by department policy to chase a fleeing suspect in a vehicle for a property crime, and yes, that includes a burglary. Although I agree with you, and so would most police officers I'm sure, that burglary is indeed a serious crime. However, if the facts of the case indicate that the circumstances involve only a property crime, the consensus is that the danger of a car chase outweighs the inherent danger of the property crime. Police chases are indeed dangerous, especially when most involve high speeds and significant evasive action. The officers are not just concerned about their own driving under these circumstances, but ultimately have no control of what the fleeing suspect might do. Overall public safety is the major consideration here, and too many innocent people have been injured or killed as a result of these car chases.

Posted by Real life is different from a TV show, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Let's not judge unless you were there and were involved with the chase. Burglary is a serious crime, but at what cost would you pursue a suspect? Would you risk injuring or even killing a bystander? This happened several times in San Jose last year, and I would hate to lose a loved one to such a chase.

To Phil: I don't think ulysses or thanx deserve your civility or any response at all.

Posted by Cora, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2012 at 10:59 am

Here is what I would do if I spotted the suspect car. I would not turn on my siren to warn the car. I would stay a couple of cars behind. I would quickly call the force to plan to intercept the suspect by anticipating its trajectory, preferably with unmarked cars. Then I would move in from a couple of directions. This would not guarantee that the operation would be successful. But it has more chance of succeeding than a potentially dangerous chase that most criminals know the police is not willing to follow through.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Can they find out who the car was registered to?

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I like your plan Cora, assuming that the suspect didn't speed off and take evasive action as soon as they saw the patrol car. The story doesn't indicate whether or not the Mountain View tried to stop the suspect before he fled so who knows. As for the use of unmarked police cars, it's my understanding that most smaller departments do not have those cars readily available on a routine basis. If that was the case I'm sure it would take some time to scramble and get an officer in an unmarked car to respond. Either way I do like your plan at least under ideal circumstances.

The news story does go on to say that the officers did find the car abandoned by the burglar. The officers would then be able to find out who the car is registered to as suggested by Anonymous from Barron Park. Certainly a great lead. If they're lucky, the burglar is the registered owner of the car, or, whoever does own the car could possibly tell the police who was driving it if they chose to cooperate. If the car was stolen, the suspect might have left something behind that could enable the police to identify them. I suppose even a DNA sample might be extracted from the car to help aid in his identification.

Regardless, it sounds like they have a few things to work with. I'm glad that an alert neighbor witnessed what happened and called the police. I'm glad that the victim was able to get some of their property returned. And most of all, I'm glad that no one was injured in the process. Wishing the police luck in tracking down the person responsible.

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm

@ "siree:"

For every "bad" cop, there are 100,000 good cops.

For every "innocent" criminal, there are 100,000 who are guilty.

So, there are probably fewer "bad" cops than there are "innocent" criminals.

Make sense?

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 26, 2012 at 9:10 am

"To Phil: I don't think ulysses or thanx deserve your civility or any response at all."

Nawww, Phil is doing fine. Civility is always a good idea, even to the un-civil, and if Phil responds calmly and rationally like that then perhaps we will have fewer others responding in a less savory manner.

Good going Phil.

Posted by sensei, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Mar 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
There are hundreds of thousands of police, probation, corrections, and parole officers who go about their business in an honorable, just manner. I am abundantly confident that a vast majority fit that description. They do a difficult job, in constantly changing and challenging environments. They deal with people at their worst, while society seems to accept little short of perfection from them.

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm

@ sensei:

You are insinuating that police are "dirty." I suspect that your stereotype is just as incorrect as stereotyping entire racial or ethnic minorities based upon the acts of a few.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2012 at 9:49 am

'You are insinuating that police are "dirty."'

But, the police ARE "dirty" in the opinion of some, who have good reason to think that way. Just go to any maximum security prison and take a poll among the prisoners: The police are an unconstitutional infringement on their freedoms. Many outside the prisons also feel that way, many of them have just not been placed inside yet.

On the other hand, if you ask the law-abiding population who are the usual targets of the preditors, the police are a pretty good group of people. It's all a matter of perspective.

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