Two years ago we were worried about mountain lions invading our yards in Palo Alto. This year we are worried about burglars invading our houses. I'd rather worry about the lions.
My reasoning: The chances of a mountain lion breaking and entering my home are far less than a burglar getting in.
We've all read about the rash of burglaries here in town and none of us know what to do about it. Neither, apparently, does the police.
Residential burglaries have increased 75 percent in Palo Alto in the first six months of the year compared to last year. And counting through July 5, there have been 129 residential burglaries, compared to 183 for all of 2005. They typically occur during the day, and the burglaries are occurring all over town. Auto thefts and burglaries continue at about the same rate as last year.
Police Chief Lynne Johnson said her department is doing its best, and has stepped up patrols. She's asked all of us to watch our neighborhoods and report anything suspicious.
But the police still haven't figured out why Palo Alto is such a sudden prime target, and not neighboring cities. The police speculate that the burglars may be after money to buy more drugs, specifically methamphetamines, but that still doesn't explain why Palo Alto is being hit so hard, particularly south Palo Alto residences.
Residents are coming up with all sorts of suggestions on what to do form Neighborhood Watch groups, install monitors on one's house, add additional street lights, have vigilante groups patrol during the night to report any suspicious behavior, etc.
I leave the house and upon my return, now open the door and peek inside, to see if it looks the same. I never remember doing this the past 20 years. I hear a noise from my bedroom window in the middle of the night and I jump out of my bed to look outside, wondering if it's a burglar in the street. I am not a paranoid person, and I am not particularly proud of my current paranoia.
One thing I do know. The police have been lax, so far, in sharing information with neighbors when things happen. After a June 26 burglary, police initially said they used a Teleminder system to alert residents, but later recanted, saying it wouldn't have worked.
So now we must become vigilantes, protecting our own property borders, safeguarding our neighborhoods. As I said, I would rather worry about mountain lions.