A tech-savvy homeowner on Tennyson Avenue in Palo Alto used a webcam to record footage of a suspicious man taking pictures of his house and apparently trying to open his front door Friday morning (Feb. 4).
The morning incident in the 400 block of Tennyson surprised the resident, who reported the situation at 10 a.m. to Palo Alto police and e-mailed a warning to neighborhood leaders.
"I saw him, after standing there for a few minutes, nervously looking in the house and around the front yard, reach for our front door handle to see if he could open it," the resident stated in the e-mail to neighbors.
The resident also said the man seemed to be "casing the joint" and attached several still images from the video footage to the e-mail.
Police are reviewing the video footage but the initial police report had no mention of the resident's suspicion that the man was trying to enter the house, Palo Alto police Agent Rich Bullerjahn said.
The resident told police the man was on the property for about a minute and then left, Bullerjahn said. The unknown man was described as Hispanic and in his 30s, 5 feet 8 inches tall, approximately 160 pounds, with dark hair and a goatee. He was wearing a tan puffy jacket.
The resident's e-mail alert was forwarded to Palo Alto Neighborhoods -- the umbrella organization for Palo Alto resident associations -- and to neighborhood groups' distribution lists across the city, according to Duveneck/St. Francis Neighborhood Association President Karen White.
A few people reported receiving multiple copies or third- or fourth-hand.
White said capturing the incident on camera may be a boon for law enforcement and concerned residents.
"As residents, we all can be vigilant. ... To the extent we are able, we can be the eyes on the street for the police," White said.
"You know that saying, 'A picture is worth a thousand words?' In this case, that's very true," White said.