Palo Alto police see spike in auto burglaries

Several incidents were grand thefts, according to police

A series of recent auto burglaries are being investigated by Palo Alto police, including at least three that were grand thefts involving cash and jewelry, police said.

Thieves struck 11 vehicles since Thursday (Sept. 15), according to police reports, breaking into unlocked cars and smashing car windows.

Items taken included GPS units, laptop computers, iPods, DVD players, cash and jewelry, Agent Max Nielepko said.

Burglars stole a laptop computer and other items from a vehicle in the 400 block of Bryant Street (between University and Lytton avenues) on Sept. 15 and smashed a car window in the 400 block of Portage Avenue on Sept. 16, taking a suitcase, computer bag and other items.

On Sept. 17, a total of seven vehicle break-ins included three vehicles in the 800 block of Northampton Drive (near Barbara Drive and Seale Avenue) and one in the 1400 block of Pitman Avenue (near Center Drive and Dana Avenue), which police termed grand thefts because the losses in each incident were greater than $950.

Nielepko said the grand thefts involves "some significant money values," but detectives are withholding details about these thefts as the investigation is ongoing.

Additional break-ins that day included two vehicles in the 900 block of Blair Court (near Elsinore Drive and Oregon Expressway) and one in the 1800 block of Mark Twain Street (at Embarcadero Road). Two other auto burglaries occurred on Sept. 19, in the 100 block of El Camino Real at the Stanford Shopping Center and the 600 block of Hansen Way near El Camino Real. In the latter incident, the thief or thieves smashed a window and stole an iPod, according to police.

"The police department recommends very strongly if at all possible not to leave valuables in vehicles. It only If you absolutely must store valuables in a vehicle, secure them in the trunk where they can't be seen or easily taken," Nielepko said.

"The unfortunate thing is that many of these crimes are somewhat preventable," and residents should always lock their car doors, he added.

Palo Alto police are working hard to track down the burglars, he said.

Sue Dremann

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Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 20, 2011 at 10:33 am

"Items taken included GPS units, laptop computers, iPods, DVD players, cash and jewelry, Agent Max Nielepko said." Are people REALLY this stupid, or are they claiming more things missing so they can collect more insurance? Who on earth keeps 'cash and jewelry' in their cars???????????? Ok, I took my diamond tiara out of the car yesterday, but still.....

Like this comment
Posted by Barron Parker
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 20, 2011 at 11:28 am

As mentioned on several previous occasions, it would not be expensive to prevent these outbreaks of crime, whether they're auto burglaries, home burglaries, armed assaults, etc.

We should install video cameras throughout the city. They're now very cheap, and there are a lot of technically trained people available as community volunteers to help track and identify the criminals.

Just the fact that Palo Alto has massive surveillance would effectively deter criminals from coming in.

Like this comment
Posted by Moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2011 at 1:18 pm

If a car is unlocked, I don't think you "break into" it.

More likely, you open the door.

Like this comment
Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 20, 2011 at 9:03 pm

4 years living in downtown Boston taught me to never leave anything valuable in the car, and never lock the doors. Locked doors lead to broken windows.

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Mutti - I'd never heard of leaving doors unlocked, but sounds like it's to prevent damage, while leaving car empty is to prevent theft. I don't know if I'll be leaving the doors of my car open all night, wouldn't want a Soup Kitchen scene in the morning:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by use common sense!
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 21, 2011 at 12:36 am

Sounds like someone is getting their x-mas shopping done extra early this year. Why do people believe that 5mm of glass is going to protect a $200 iPod or $800 laptop?

It's way too easy to break car windows. You'd be surprised that thieves use tiny porcelain spark plug holders to smash open car windows. You can get a pack of them really cheap at any Kragen or auto supply store. Watch what a tiny speck of porcelain can do to a large car window: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by John Mori
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 21, 2011 at 7:28 am

For all types of reasons, people people have felt safe enough in this town to leave their doors unlocked and valuables in the car and sometimes they just forget. It's important to know your neighborhood and be aware of strangers and how to secure your stuff.

Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN) has a neighborhood watch / emergency preparedness program that can make our neighborhoods less attractive to these crooks. You may have a Block Preparedness Coordinator in your neighborhood that can help make awareness happen. If they do, they could use your help in getting the word out in your neighborhood. If you don't, I recommend you contact PAN to get your neighborhood organized. You don't want your neighborhood to be known as "Easy Pickins" by the bad guys.

Like this comment
Posted by Maggie
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm

To Moi: If you open a car door because it is unlocked that does not mean you did NOT break in! If your front door is unlocked and someone opens it and walks in then is that okay?? A private property is a private property. It amazes me to read such comment, please educate yourself and use common sense. What would be the purpose for a person to open an unlocked car door that does not belong to him/her unless that person is getting something out of a car for the owner.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Sad if you find more fault with the victim than you do the thief. We were hit a year back. I wont bore you with the details but this is clearly organized crime. The spending spree they went on included items used for drug production and burglary as well as identity theft. The police made NO effort to track down the people responsible though their trail was clearly defined. Dealing with insurance companies is not worth the amount lost let alone stealing from an insurance company to make matters worse. Watch out for thy neighbor, I am....

Like this comment
Posted by Aaron
a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Have the Palo Alto Firefighters patrol the neighorhoods at night instead of sleeping.

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

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