News

Police: 'Family' burglary team active in Palo Alto?

A mostly uneventful community meeting with police Chief Dennis Burns and staff also sparked a quick exchange over 'open carry' gun rights

A burglary team consisting of a child and two adults is active in Palo Alto. They have attempted three residential burglaries in the past month, police officials reported Wednesday evening at an open-air "Meet the Chief" community meeting in Juana Briones Park in south Palo Alto.

Police Capt. Bob Beacom announced the existence of the mixed team, which resembles a family operation, although there is no reported evidence of that.

"Cat burglaries are the most dangerous," Lt. Scott Wong warned of burglaries in general. "The vast majority occur because the doors and windows are unlocked." A cat burglar enters a house with people in it, usually sleeping -- dangerous because of the possibility of a confrontation with the occupants.

Wong urged residents to "get to know your neighbors and secure your property" to help prevent future burglaries.

He said some would-be thieves pretend to be solicitors. Citizens who become suspicious of a solicitor can call the department's anonymous tip line at 650-329-2190, or text or e-mail a description of the solicitor to paloalto@tipnow.org. Those who relay information anonymously are assigned a number to maintain confidentiality.

Police Chief Dennis Burns, who also serves as interim fire chief , lead the 6:30 to 8 p.m. meeting. Burns is filling in for retired Fire Chief Nick Marinaro until an executive search team and City Council selects a new fire chief.

Other members of the police and fire departments joined Beacom and Burns. Each gave a report to the audience, many of whom attend the meetings each month.

Commercial burglaries have by risen 15 percent this calendar year over last, Beacom reported. He said the majority occurred overnight along East Bayshore Road, an easily accessible location. There have been 13 storage-locker burglaries along El Camino Real, he said.

On the fire side, arson is a concern as the summer progresses, Beacom said. Last summer, several suspected arsonists were identified and arrested.

Now more could be at work, he said, citing five suspicious fires since April 15, one at Herbert Hoover Elementary School. He said fires are being set between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. and asked citizens to watch for suspicious activity.

A woman in the audience brought up the organization, California Open Carry, whose members wear unloaded guns as a form of civil protest.

"It horrifies me," she said.

"It's the Second Amendment," a man in the back retorted.

"Do not assume an unconcealed weapon is open carry," Wong cautioned.

Lisa Scheff, manager of records for the Police Department, said Palo Alto's Community Alert Network System (CANS) will merge with Santa Clara County's similar system on Aug. 11. She said it will be "a seamless transition for residents" that will allow users more access to information.

Previously, Palo Alto only used CANS "in life-and-death situations," Wong added, referring to past cases of abduction and murder.

Beacom, in response to audience concerns about identity theft, said there are about 300 legitimate fraud cases every year. He said a Palo Alto resident is more likely to be a victim of identity theft than any other crime.

There are two detectives assigned to fraud, he said.

Staff cuts have hurt, Burns said. He reported that the budget forced the Police Department to cut five positions this year. Due to similar losses, Scheff said her Records Department will only be open Mondays through Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Open Carry friend
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2010 at 8:53 am

This is really annoying to use fear against people who legally open carry like this. First anybody who intends to commit a crime is already in violation of the law and carrying is a felony. Next if you are a criminal carrying is a crime. Most who intend to commit a crime are not going to draw additional attention to themselves by open carrying. This would be like wearing a banana suit when going into a bank ready to rob it and trying to get away on a tricycle.

Most PD department know the open carriers, we are well versed and have excellent relations. Most PD also know who are the thugs and who to watch out for. Sometimes common sense and logic are key. If you see a black man with a gun on his hip having dinner is not the same as a criminal who is looking all around like he is looking not to get busted.

If open carry freaks you out by the idea then you have never seen this in real life. Criminals do not open carry unless they are on some odd mission to go to jail. Open carriers are subject to constant public scrutiny and inspection by a police officer. If the person has any records that prohibit owning a gun they can be arrested and due to those convictions would be subject to search and seizure without permission.

It is a common tactic to use fear to evoke reactions for media attention. It is also common with gun control groups to use mis-information and clever wording to manipulate the truth. Open Carry uses government reports from BJS, FBI, DOJ where those numbers and facts are proof absolute that gun control leads to additional crime. Above article is crime and has NOTHING to do with anybody who is Open Carry. Crime has nothing to do with open carry. Open carry is asked to be in certain places by business owners but we cannot go all these places to meet where there is crime. All the places in the bay area we are asked has helped the businesses to drive away thugs and getting robbed for these go way down. Have you noticed Starbucks no longer gets robbed? They were being robbed frequently before open carry. As soon as Peets banned guns they became a target or crime because thugs knew that open carry would not be there. Just not knowing whether open carry will be there has improved the numbers. Same happened at restaurants in the 707 area. All of a sudden the regular robberies went away after events were being help at the shopping center. The reality is far from paranoid speculation.


Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2010 at 9:06 am

If you see someone walking down the street with a gun, use some common sense. Don't try to confront a man with a gun! Call 911 and let the police sort it out.


Like this comment
Posted by Gun Owner
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 22, 2010 at 10:19 am

What's the point of this silly swaggering around with an unloaded gun? It's just dead weight; worse than useless.


Like this comment
Posted by NoSolicitors
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 22, 2010 at 10:42 am

Is it possible for the police to provide some sort of description of the child and 2 adults? What areas of Palo Alto have been hit?


Like this comment
Posted by thinker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 22, 2010 at 10:53 am

Dear Open Carry friend,
What you say makes sense-- criminals will hide their guns instead of openly carrying them. But has it occurred to you that if open carry becomes common, then it provides perfect camoflage for criminals?
Also, I fail to see the point of the open carry movement. We have an amendment that protects our right to bear arms. Carrying arms in the street? This can only speak to spontaneous rather than carefully planned use of arms. Not good.Counterproductive.


Like this comment
Posted by NutHead
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2010 at 11:27 am

It seemed like the point of this story was this family burglary ring. I'd like to echo no solicitors above and say, please, provide us with some details.

As a side note, I'm a big 2nd amendment supporter, but I'm starting to agree with thinker's line of thought. Concealed carry is a good idea and maybe we will see it in California someday. Unless you are on a ranch, or a cop, unloaded open carry is just getting obnoxious and pointless. What good is carrying an unloaded gun? Quit making a spectacle of yourselves and work towards "shall issue" concealed carry in California.


Like this comment
Posted by NutHead
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2010 at 11:28 am

Sorry quick amendment - unloaded open carry is probably not a great idea if you are a cop! I didn't mean it that way I meant carrying a loaded weapon openly is only necessary on a ranch or if you are cop.


Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 22, 2010 at 11:32 am

Open carry person -- do you have any statistics to support your contention that crimes at Peet's increased without open carry? I have my doubts, but am open to well-documented information supporting your contention.

As noted by others, I see no point in open carry other than someone wanted to "strut their stuff". The guns you carry cannot be loaded, so how can it possibly help in an emergency situation? How do address the information that those with guns are more likely to harmed than helped by them? It really seems senseless to carry just because you can and to show the world we have 2nd amendment rights.


Like this comment
Posted by carlitos ways
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2010 at 11:41 am

How do you know if a gun is really unloaded? just looking at the loaded magazine outside the gun? how about an extra loaded magazine inside the gun also?
With all respect to all of those who think that open carry is an excercise of a constitutional ammendment:
You are not worth your salt, you are a coward, I feel sorry for you, get some professional help.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2010 at 11:50 am

I think someone carrying an unloaded gun in plain view is just making a target of themselves as anyone with a knife or other weapon could easily attack them just to steal the gun, a team of 2 with knives even easier.

If I am in a business or restaurant and some fool comes in with a gun and the business does not ask them to leave, I will leave myself. I am not going to frequent any business that will tolerate this foolishness.


Like this comment
Posted by Vigil Auntie
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Forget Open Carry--it's the Burglary Family I'm concerned about.
Yes, a description would be nice, is it too much to ask for a "racial profile" (white, Hispanic, African-American, Asian?) and physical description (short, tall, thin, heavy?) of the suspects?
It's a legitimate way to identify a suspect, ya know? If I were stopped because a white person of my description was a crime suspect, it would not trouble me.

And remember that a child can easily be boosted into a small window opening after the screen is cut to then allow the rest of the "team" access via opening a door. When I lived in another city, I was late getting to my home to meet a friend. Her son reached in through the doggie door and unlocked the entry door so they didn't have to wait outside in the heat. A wake up call. We got locked out of a vacation rental condo and had our child climb up to the second floor balcony to let us in via the open sliding door.


Like this comment
Posted by Retired Teacher
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm

THIS ARTICLE WAS ABOUT A CHILD AND TWO ADULTS THAT ARE ROBBING HOMES NOT GUNS. SO, STICKING TO THE TOPIC, LET'S LOOK AT THE FACT THERE'S A CHILD!

I also would like a description asap on these three persons. Once caught, CPS should instantly place this child in a compassionate foster home, out of this area, with the addition of serious counseling and loads of community service-- not Juvenile Hall - i.e. children's jail. How could a child have the chance to be ' normal ' with a family such as this? Juvenile Hall might only enforce this negative behavior. As a tax payer, I want to pay for help, not a jail bill!
When I was a child, if kids stole something from a store, the parent took him or her down to the store by the scruff of their neck, many apologies with eyes down were said, promising not to do it again, a lecture would be given by the store owner, and that was that. Child never went there again or endured the humiliation when recognized. Now, a child gets thrown in jail for looking at another kid crossed eyed. I hope this child, regardless of age, is helped not further hindered by being placed in jail. And, yes, for those of you unfamiliar with the law these days, some police departments actually have a small child sized holding cell.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm- To Gun Owner
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Thank you for your intelligent comments, swiftly getting to the heart of the matter re open carry. What a waste of time/energy, w/potentially dangerous results. I'd rather know more about the burgling family in your town than the silly open carry stuff. W/so many serious issues currently going on, to take on this issue seems a bit silly in a puerile and provocative way.


Like this comment
Posted by wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm

"If you see a black man with a gun on his hip having dinner is not the same as a criminal who is looking all around like he is looking not to get busted. "

Open Carry friend

In your zeal to admonish those who "use fear against people who legally open carry like this" you inject latent and insidious racism in your example quoted above.

Why is it that you use a black man in your example as opposed to ANY man (or woman for that matter). Are guns shot by blacks any deadlier than those shot my whites?

I'd venture to say that the example was not intended to be racist, but that's precisely what makes it both latent and insidious -- because most people won't even pick up on the fact that it IS a racist comment.

It's no different than a news story that describes the arrest of a suspect (who happens to be black) and goes on to add the race of the suspect in the article. It latently and gratuitously links the "arrest" to black men in general.

On the other hand, if a suspect were still at large, it would be perfectly appropriate to indicate race as part of the description as well as height, weight and tattoos.

The sad part is most folk won't pick up on this subtle form of racism.


Like this comment
Posted by Wondering
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I understand that most, if not all, open carry people have one or two loaded magazines on their belt as well as the gun. I saw one TV program that showed how fast the carrier could load his weapon. I think it was less than or about one second.

If one doesn't plan to use the gun, why bother carrying it?
If one doesn't plan to use the gun, why carry loaded magazines?


Like this comment
Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm

The gist of this blog was supposed to be two adults with a child stealing from homes. So could we just STICK TO THE POINT?? What ages are the adults? Race? (Yes, that is important for identification so drop the racial profiling issue). Clothing?
Were they carrying small hand luggage, have on a backpack, large handbag?
In what section of town were they operating? How old was the child? Did anyone see a vehicle? After all the verbiage above, I still don't know any pertinent facts.
So would someone start his/her own concealed or open-carry weapon thread on Town Square and leave this one for the initial issue. Thank you.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2010 at 8:40 pm

The article covers many topics, all of which can and should be up for discussion here.

I would like clarification on the CANS comment. I am not sure that this was ever declared a life or death only service. I have received several CANS messages, about 4 on the day of the power outage alone, and I don't think any of them constituted life or death situations. Are there any changes being made to this service? Elsewhere the service is known as reverse 911 calls, is this a different service or are they both the same?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Lock your doors and windows during the day and night.

If you haven't done so already, get to know your neighbors...be a good neighbor.

Make an effort to adopt a dog into you're family...they're the best alarm system you could ever hope want.

Plus, they'll give you unconditional love!


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2010 at 10:15 pm

The open carry movement comes across as useless, except for the exercising of 2nd amendment rights. The open carry people I've seen have said in interviews they had ammo w/them & some said they could load really fast. I certainly don't want to be around those people. They have a major axe to grind & it's annoying, attention seeking & potentially dangerous. Let Starbucks have them!


Like this comment
Posted by Gun Owner
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 22, 2010 at 10:32 pm

"I saw one TV program that showed how fast the carrier could load his weapon. I think it was less than or about one second."

That's about five times as long as it takes the other guy to pull his trigger. Carrying is definitely a dumb idea and potentially deadly -- to the carrier.


Like this comment
Posted by M
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2010 at 12:29 am

As a firearms enthusiast and 2nd Amendment supporter, I do not think open carry is a good idea. It allows others to openly know you have a weapon, and who to take out first if they want to commit a crime. You are drawing attention to yourself from criminals in your vicinity and you have the added disadvantage of needing to load your weapon after drawing it from the holster. HOWEVER, it is a right and it is LEGAL currently. It should be allowed and should not be infringed in any way, shape, or form.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 23, 2010 at 9:01 am

If I saw someone walking around with a gun in my neighborhood, I'd call the Palo Police non-emergency number: (650)-329-2413 and report them.

It doesn't matter if it's legal or not. It's complete unnecessary and inappropriate in our community.


Like this comment
Posted by MN
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 23, 2010 at 9:09 am

According to the Mercury-News, the boy is around 10 years old with long brown hair. He is accompanied by a man in his 20s. For you racial profiling people, I assume that both are white. Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Sal
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2010 at 10:37 am

Every citizen (except convicts) should have the right to CCW or open carry.

People commit crimes with guns, as they know they are likely to be the only ones with a gun. If more people would open carry or CCW, crimes that use force would be much reduced.

Anti-gun communities, will likely be the primary targets for those who use force in their crimes.

Guns are just as dangerous as many other modern tools. People need to be trained before using one...just like a car.


Like this comment
Posted by tired of the BS
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2010 at 10:48 am

- Wow, the reason the open carry people say things like "If you see a black man with a gun on his hip having dinner " is they are trying to make open carry a discrimination issue. They are comparing themselves to a protected class, which they are not.


Like this comment
Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 23, 2010 at 11:29 am

Here's a question for the open-carry people--

You're walking down the street with your legal UNLOADED weapon on your hip, and I step out from behind a truck with my LOADED Saturday-night-special in my hand, and I say, "Give me your wallet and your cell phone. And your gun.".

Please finish the scenario.


Like this comment
Posted by Sal
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm

WilliamR, do you really need to ask that?

Of course you would give them what they demand....and hopefully a fellow citizen near by would contact the police.

This is why CCW is much more important that Open Carry.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 23, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Only one person commenting seemed to care about the welfare of this child!
What is that saying about us, folks?
More people were concerned about guns than a child's welfare!
Absolutely astounding!


Like this comment
Posted by Adult
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 23, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Yes - I'm much less concerned about this young person, than I am about the people he robbed.

Most likely he will continue a life of crime, and I'm not going to shed any tears over his plight. If he gets on the right path, more power to him - he will have done what most others in his place could not, but I find it highly doubtful.

Reality may be harsh, but it is what it is.


Like this comment
Posted by YSK
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Criminals have guns. They don't care whether they carry them concealed, or out in the open. They have no morals. They are the scum of the earth and nothing we say or do will change their feeling of entitlement to the property (and lives) of others. However you feel you wish to protect your property is how you should do it. Enough of being victimized.


Like this comment
Posted by YSK
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2010 at 10:43 pm

@MN why assume when it is published the race is likely to be Hispanic? That's not racial profiling, that's witness reporting.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2010 at 11:57 am

YSK, your vigilante attitude is problematic because of these things we have which govern us called laws. The criminals might be breaking the law, but stopping them, whatever the cost, when our lives aren't in danger is illegal, as it should be. Educate yourself about the realities of these laws. While you're at it, educate yourself about stats w/criminals w/guns vs. those w/out. Many burglars do NOT have guns or other weapons. They aren't violent criminals & don't care to be. They want to get in, get your nice stuff & get out, no drama, no violence.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 24, 2010 at 11:59 am

@ Adult in Adobe Meadows

What an attitude. We have progressed technically but reversed in our humanity!
If I had been robbed, I certainly would be concerned about the robbery, hoped the adults got what due them, but I certainly would have cared about this 10 year old boy!
This young person had NO choice but to help rob these houses! How horrible to be raised in such an envirnment and worse yet that most reading the article do not care!!!
And, no! It is not doubtful that he will stop if helped!! How sad for you to be so negative.


Like this comment
Posted by uncoo
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jul 25, 2010 at 4:56 pm

society is finished ,you are all on your own.


Like this comment
Posted by Gun Owner
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 26, 2010 at 11:01 am

"This is why CCW is much more important that Open Carry."

Give me a break. Do you really think you can pull and shoot faster than the other guy can twitch his trigger finger? Try it with a friend sometime. Be sure you both have toy guns.

Now account for the surprise factor, or the time you need to determine whether that object aimed your way is a gun or someone's finger pointing out a bird behind you, etc. Screwing up that call will put you in jail and, even worse for your fantasies, it will put another nail in the CCW movement's coffin.


Like this comment
Posted by Adult
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Why do you need to put words in my mouth?

No, it would be foolish to pull a gun on someone who had a gun pointed at you.

Would you punch someone in the face if they had a gun pointed at you and you did not have a gun? The question is just as silly.

The real questions are for the "bad guy"...Would you avoid areas where CCWs are common when doing your crimes? Would you target areas where it is known that people can not carry a gun?

The answer will be "Yes" in both questions.

Why make your community a target for crime?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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