News

Cars burglarized in restaurant parking lots

Four burglaries reported along El Camino Real Wednesday night

Four cars were burglarized in restaurant parking lots along El Camino Real in Palo Alto Wednesday night, Palo Alto police Sgt. Sal Madrigal said Thursday morning. All of the burglaries occurred within about one hour and laptop computers were the primary targets, Madrigal said.

"The vehicles had their windows smashed and laptop cases were taken," Madrigal said.

The first two thefts occurred in the parking lot of So Gong Dong Tofu House, 4127 El Camino Real, at approximately 7:22 p.m., he said. Two other burglaries were reported 56 minutes later in the parking lot of Sundance The Steakhouse at 1921 El Camino. Madrigal said police are investigating the thefts but have not yet identified any suspects.

— Tyler Hanley

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by local gurl
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 10, 2011 at 10:53 am

Laptops should NEVER be left in cars . . . no reason for these thefts!!


Like this comment
Posted by Al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2011 at 11:01 am

Let's hope that there were some surveillance cameras in service somewhere nearby.

The City (or the State) should mandate surveillance cameras for parking lots. This is a huge expense, but the police are not going to be able to solve many of these sorts of crimes without a lot of help from outside Palo Alto.

Maybe its time for the car manufacturers to start offering some sort of in-car surveillance equipment.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 10, 2011 at 11:29 am

Almost all rental cars have a company indentifying decal on the bumper or the windshield or back window. . These thieves are targeting rental cars because renters leave their luggage and belongings in their autos - interior and trunk when shopping and dining. The rental car companies should warn their renters to take valuables with them. Inconvenient, yes. Smart, yes.


Like this comment
Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 10, 2011 at 11:49 am

Don't forget the Equinox parking lot, lots of vehicle 459's there too.

The gist of this article: Parking on ECR is dangerous.

qq


Like this comment
Posted by Al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

> Rental cars ..

Interesting. Are the police reports backing up this claim?

No matter. There is no reason that the rental agencies should n't do something to help their customers, but including at least a "disclosure" that personal electronics are often stolen in the Bay Area, and that rental car clients are encouraged to put their valuables in the trunk. Forcing the clients to sign off on this document would also be a requirement for rental.

Rental car companies also could start installing surveillance equipment in their cars, if they are more likely targets than non-rental cars.

> Parking on ECR is dangerous.

Ok .. but if this is true, then the PA police should be setting up decoys, with lots of personal electronics visible, and a number of police as close as possible to arrest these bozos.


Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Criminals are getting gutsier. Breaking into cars on El Camino Real with cars (witnesses) driving by?


Like this comment
Posted by Blake
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm

I would imagine, during these very difficult financial times, that the police department is not going to have the manpower and resources to set up any long term decoy operation for a property related crime. They have been hit with cutbacks and continue to lose positions in order to help balance the city budget. Something has to give if public safety positions are sacrificed.


Like this comment
Posted by just thinkin'
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 10, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Dan Brown's closed and crime went up and you still smell pot smoke in the neighborhood, AND the vacant retail space by Subway has posted "No Smoking" signs in their empty windows...........

Totally makes sense ((CENTS???) to me..............


Like this comment
Posted by Al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2011 at 6:25 pm

> the police department is not going to have the manpower and
> resources to set up any long term decoy operation for a property
> related crime

Maybe. But this is the sort of thing that using money from the overtime budget, and the mutual aid agreements with nearby cities, to hire officers from other cities to help man the operation. If ECR is really a problem, every city up and down the Peninsula's got the same problem.

At the very minimum, using junk laptops in nice carrying cases with GPS locators, and taking pictures of the thugs so that facial recognition software could perhaps be used to identify them, would allow fewer police to be involved with the decoy operation.

There any number of things the police can do .. including doing nothing.


Like this comment
Posted by Blake
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 10, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Under ideal circumstances, all sounds like good suggestions Al. As far as using overtime dollars, from what I know and have heard about departments are doing what they can to limit those expenditures especially for property crimes. Every department is strapped, so I'm not sure that anyone has the staffing to send what manpower they do have to another city. When departments do make staffing cuts, again, it's usually those positions that handle things like burglaries and other property crimes.

I do like the suggestion of placing a GPS tracker in a laptop case, maybe even have an alert set that would notify the police when it is moved or opened. That would free them of having to have an officer or officers staking out the car. As far as the police department goes, I'm sure they're doing what they can to combat a problem that has to be random and difficult to predict. I think as the public we sometimes tend to oversimplify things, or expect things to work out like they do on TV or in the movies. I'm certainly no expert, but reality has to be a bit more complicated than that.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Mar 10, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Anyone venture a guess what it costs when you actually do catch a thief? The police time, the jail time, the attorney time, the jury time, the prison time, the parole board time, and all the sundry expenses?


Like this comment
Posted by NoticerofThings
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 11, 2011 at 11:00 am

That was happening 5 years ago....three windows were smashed out of cars at the El Camino Old Pro in daylight with people coming and going. The more I read, the more disgusted I get.

If individual businesses got more agressive about security around Palo Alto, and then INDIVIDUALS got more serious about personal security, we would be a far less attractive target.

When my stuff was stolen, the thief went to Shell on El Camino to use my card. OF COURSE their surveillance camera was out.

Pisses me off to this day to even think about it.


Like this comment
Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 11, 2011 at 11:11 am

Post a description of the stolen items on Craigslist, the most likely place these items will be sold.


Like this comment
Posted by huh
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 14, 2011 at 9:52 am

I'm not sure what a usually-night-time photo of a thief, likely with a hoodie pulled around his or her face, would provide. The last laptop thieves I remember were an older guy from the East Bay (commuter thief!)who waited on ECR while the kid he picked up on the streets and was paying a paltry sum ($100 for the night?) ran into the parking lots down ECR grabbing laptops. I suspect thse thieves are like vermin, as long as the targeted rich resource (laptops) is plentiful and relatively unsecured, another thief will just pop up after arresting the first one. Better idea for restaurants and rental companies to educate (maybe even provide a "coat room" for laptops and luggage in restaurants at less expense than cameras). The economics of extensive and expensive police investigation for laptops likely valued at a few hundred bucks a pop seems tenuous.


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