Palo Alto police have provided more details and released a sketch in a search for a young boy and adults engaged in a residential-burglary spree in Palo Alto in the past month.
Detective Brian Philip said a boy who looks about 10 years old was confronted inside one home and seen jumping from the window of another, and adults have been in the area.
"These particular burglaries are unique due to the fact that in two cases, a young juvenile enters the residence while an adult waits outside," Philip said.
He said the juvenile is described as a Hispanic male with long brown hair and approximately 10 years old. The boy is approximately 5 feet tall and about 100 pounds, witnesses reported.
Philip said three incidents have occurred since July 17.
The first incident on July 17 was in the 300 block of Embarcadero Road at midnight, when a resident arrived home and found the boy inside her house. He fled out an open window. Philip said no adults were seen waiting and nothing appeared to be missing.
The second burglary occurred July 19 in the 400 block of Lytton Avenue at 1:30 p.m. When confronted by a resident the boy said he was attempting to deliver carpet to a neighboring address. The resident told police that a Hispanic male in his 20s appeared to be waiting for the boy outside the residence.
The adult is described as 5 feet 4 inches tall and about 120 pounds (see sketch, courtesy of the Palo Alto Police Department). The resident reported that a skateboard was missing, but the incident was not immediately reported to police, Philip said.
The third incident occurred July 20 at noon in the 700 block of East Charleston Road. He said the boy attempted to enter the residence through a side door but ran away when he encountered the resident. The resident said he heard a group of what he believed to be Hispanic females outside the residence as the suspect fled.
The incident was not reported to police until 8 p.m., Philip said.
He said citizens should report suspicious persons or activity to police immediately, either by calling 911 in the case of an emergency or calling the non-emergency number, 650-329-2413.
Police Capt. Bob Beacom initially disclosed the burglary team July 21 at an open-air "Meet the Chief" community meeting at Juana Briones Park in south Palo Alto, when residents met with police Chief Dennis Burns.
Other than circumstantial indications, there is no direct evidence that the burglars are in fact from the same family -- but the entering of occupied homes creates a higher level of risk than burglaries of empty houses, police warn.
"Cat burglaries are the most dangerous," Lt. Scott Wong said.
"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 email@example.com. Those who relay information anonymously are assigned a number to maintain confidentiality.