Palo Alto police are investigating a possible link between the Thursday-morning (Sept. 2) burglary-and-manhunt and an Aug. 27 home-invasion armed robbery and a July 3 night-time burglary.
The Thursday-morning burglary resulted in the arrest of one suspect and a continuing search for one or more other possibly involved. according to Palo Alto police. (View the press release.)
The second suspect was described by witnesses as a 5-foot-4-inch Hispanic male between 15 and 25 with a thin build and black, shoulder-length hair.
The Thursday manhunt involved three police agencies, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Stanford, according to Palo Alto police spokesman Max Nielepko.
Police are looking into a possible connection between the burglars and a home-invasion robbery of a 78-year-old man on Morris Drive on Aug. 27 and a July 3 burglary on the 1500 block of Hamilton Avenue, he said.
In the Hamilton Avenue case, burglars entered the home while a family of four slept and stole a 50-inch television, a camera, watch, cell phone and laptop computer, which they loaded into the family's Toyota Sienna mini-van and drove away.
On Thursday (Sept. 2) a man sleeping in his second-story bedroom on the 100 block of Waverley Street was awakened by noises downstairs at about 1:33 a.m. Thursday. The man's wife and children were also asleep in the home, Nielepko said.
The man called 911 and as police arrived he still heard noises downstairs. A suspect ran from the residence and began jumping fences through neighboring yards, he said, Police set up a perimeter and searched for the suspect, who re-emerged a short time later and tried to walk out of the perimeter.
Police arrested Sergio Fuentas, 22, of East Palo Alto. He was booked into Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose on one count of burglary, one count of vehicle theft, one count of possession of stolen property -- all felonies -- and one count of probation violation for a prior burglary conviction in San Mateo County, Nielepko said.
Police told all occupants of the house stay in a room as they requested backup units from Menlo Park. Nielepko would not say what was taken from the home.
A nearby neighbor in the 100 block of Bryant Street also reported noises in their house. Police adjusted the perimeters after hearing movement in the yard and noises on a roof. Stanford police then also responded.
Palo Alto officers spotted and chased a suspect and lit up the area with spotlights. Police dispatch contacted surrounding homeowners by phone and advised them to stay inside.
Palo Alto police then detained Fuentas at Bryant and Hawthorne Avenue.
Nielepko said he could not confirm or deny Tweet reports that Menlo Park police located one suspect a quarter mile north on Sand Hill Road. A Hispanic male with a red shirt, black pants and spiked hair was trying to flag down a ride.
Palo Alto police notified Stanford Mall security and Menlo Park police spotted a Hispanic male running from the San Francisquito Creek, trying to ditch a red shirt, according to reports.
"Certainly we're looking into the possibility that there may have been one or more persons involved," he said.
If Fuentas is connected to the Hamilton Avenue and Morris Drive crimes, his arrest could be a breakthrough in a string of crimes that appear to be increasingly brazen and dangerous.
The Aug. 27 robbery involved three Hispanic men who broke into the home of the 78-year-old man when he responded to a knock at the door at about 3:30 p.m., according to police Lt. Sandra Brown.
The men -- one armed with an automatic weapon -- rushed the resident, punched him in the face and bound him as they ransacked his house, she said after the incident. The man's wife arrived home around 5 p.m. and immediately called police, though the suspects had fled. The man was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Police ask anyone with information to call the Police Department at (650) 329-2413, or to call the department's anonymous tip line at (650) 329-2190. Anonymous tips can also be sent by text message at (650) 383-8984 or by email at PaloAlto@TipNow.org.