Odds and EndsQuote of the year
— Florence Detlor, a 101-year-old Menlo Park resident and one of the oldest people on Facebook, on what she does when someone posts negative, strange or overtly partisan comments on her news feed (Weekly, Aug. 31, 2012).
WOMAN HIT WITH MILKSHAKE, LOSES $2,000 ... A woman who was struck with a milkshake and angrily threw her alligator-skin purse at a vehicle full of teenagers lost $2,000 after the handbag flew into the open vehicle window, Palo Alto police said June 25. The incident started Sunday, June 24, just before midnight. The woman was walking east on University Avenue near Rudy's Pub when a white, recklessly driven Range Rover approached, full of male teenagers. One of the occupants allegedly threw a vanilla milkshake and struck the woman as she approached the corner of University and High Street, Sgt. Brian Philip said. Police believe the woman retaliated by throwing her alligator-skin purse at the SUV. The purse sailed through the open window and ended up inside the vehicle, and the teens drove off, Philip said. The woman denied throwing her purse at the car, but Philip said there is no indication it was snatched from the victim. The woman allegedly lost $2,000 and the alligator purse, plus personal items, he said. Police looked for the teens but had no descriptions. If found, they could face charges including battery for striking the woman with the milkshake, or possession of stolen property or misappropriation of property, Philip said.
PALO ALTO EXEC NABBED FOR LEGO SCAM ... The vice president of Palo Alto software firm SAP Labs, LLC was charged with four felony burglary charges for allegedly pasting fraudulent barcodes on LEGO toys at local Target stores. Thomas Langenbach, 47, allegedly purchased the items at greatly lowered prices scanned from the barcodes, according to a criminal complaint by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office. Loss-prevention officers initially detained Langenbach at Target, Inc., 555 Showers Drive, Mountain View, after he purchased a LEGO set that he allegedly labeled with a fake barcode. Mountain View police arrested him on May 8 at the store at about 3:45 p.m. Langenbach had been "ticket switching" LEGO boxes since April 20 at the Mountain View and Cupertino Target stores and another Target near his San Carlos home, said Liz Wylie, Mountain View police spokeswoman. Police found hundreds of unopened LEGO sets — many special-edition items — at his gated, multimillion-dollar home, according to court papers. Six of the seven items from the stores were found at Langenbach's home, according to a police report filed with the court. Investigators also found eight Ziploc bags containing labels with fraudulent barcodes in his 2011 Toyota Sienna van and shipping boxes in the home. Police say he had an eBay account, through which he has sold 2,100 items since April 17, 2011. Wylie said Langenbach has sold about $30,000 in merchandise on the eBay account under the name Tom's Brickyard. At the time of his arrest, 193 items were for sale. Most were LEGO sets, according to court papers.
MYSTERIOUS OBJECT HITS CAR, CONFIRMED AS TRAIN PART ... A mysterious object that slammed into a parked Chevrolet Suburban in Palo Alto in October turned out to be part of a passing locomotive. The object, a 1-foot-long, 20-pound hunk of molded material with two large bolts, ripped into the car sometime between Monday night, Oct. 8, and Tuesday morning, initially confounding Palo Alto police and the vehicle's owner. Resident Daniel Peters discovered a huge gash in the tailgate of his black SUV when he went to take his children to school Tuesday morning. The heavy object was embedded amid the torn metal and could not be extracted, he said. Peters said he last saw his intact vehicle in front of his home near West Charleston Road the previous night. At first, he thought the car had been vandalized, but he had second thoughts when he saw the object and the trajectory of the large slash. It seemed to come from above. "My sister said, 'No, a part of a plane fell on it,'" he said. Peters' body-shop repairman had another idea. It looked like part of a train fan housing, and it was marked "UP 9999," Peters said. Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt initially said there were no reports of a Union Pacific incident in Palo Alto, but by Friday confirmed the debris was a cooling fan from a passing freight locomotive. "Our claims team is in touch with the owner of the vehicle and is also continuing to work with local agencies to investigate this incident. The cause of the fan coming off the locomotive remains under investigation," he said in an email.
PROWLER ARRESTED AFTER MISTAKING A ROOF FOR A TRAIN ... A man who was arrested for prowling on Sunday, Feb. 19, told Palo Alto police he did not know how he had gotten on a resident's roof and thought he was taking the train home. A woman on Alexis Drive in the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood called police at 6:14 a.m. to report hearing a prowler on her roof, police Agent Marianna Villaescusa said. Officers arrived to find 23-year-old Wai Wong of Stanford on top of the home. Wong did not know the resident. Police described him as extremely intoxicated and said Wong thought he was taking the train to the Stanford University campus. He could not recall how he got on the roof or any of the events leading up to the incident. He was booked into the Main Jail in San Jose on a charge of prowling, Villaescusa said.
MARSH MOSQUITOES INVADE PALO ALTO ... Like the offspring in alien movies, mosquito eggs that had lain dormant in the Palo Alto Baylands mud for 10 to 15 years started hatching en masse this summer — thanks to a broken flood gate. The pesky critters were biting with a ferocity that Santa Clara County Vector Control officials said they hadn't seen since the 1990s. The Mayfield tidal gate, which is located east of U.S. Highway 101 and controls the flow of bay tidewater to the entire flood-control basin, had eroded. A gaping hole was allowing flooding of about 150 of the basin's 640 acres that were usually dry, said Russell Parman of Vector Control. The ebbing and flowing of salt water activated the hatching cycle for the salt-marsh mosquitoes, which specialize in laying eggs above the water line at the edge of marshes. In just four days, the floodwater adult mosquitos were on the wing. Robust fliers, they were traveling up to 5 miles from their hatching site to feed and then were returning to the marshlands to lay hundreds of eggs. Most of the complaints from bitten humans came from businesses near the Baylands and the Palo Alto Golf Course. But residents further inland at Seale and Greer parks said they also experienced the voracious insects. "My daughter has been doing soccer practice every day this week at Greer. All of the girls on her soccer team were covered in bites. I dropped her off this morning and got three bites just getting her bag out of the back of the car," an itchy Michelle Cale said.