Commercial burglaries hit downtown Palo Alto

Palo Alto small-business merchants lose nearly $5,000 cash from thefts

A burglar or burglars who struck Palo Alto's downtown business district on Nov. 3 and 4 left behind fingerprints in at least two incidents after taking nearly $5,000 in cash, police said.

Burglars entered four small businesses, forcing doors and a window open and damaging cash registers in a similar pattern, Detective Sal Madrigal said.

The thieves smashed the glass front door at 585 Bryant St. and stole $3,800 cash from Bella Beauty Salon. They did $600 to $700 damage to the cash register but left fingerprints, Madrigal said.

Thieves entered Emerson Laundry Cleaners at 926 Emerson St. through a rear window, stole $400 cash and caused $200 damage to the window. Prints were also lifted from the scene, Madrigal said.

Burglars forced open the front door at 330 Lytton Ave. and stole $550 at Kanpai Sushi and forced open the back door at California Shoe and Luggage Repair at 556 Emerson St. The repair shop's owner found the door open and the deadbolt lock on the floor. Two belts totaling $100 and a black leather bag were taken, along with $100 cash, he said.

All of the businesses were secured well but they did not have surveillance video equipment or it was not working, Madrigal said. "It's the best way to catch them," he said.

Sue Dremann

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Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 8:03 pm

My downtown office has no cash in case any burglars are lurking here. But I do sometimes sleep there at night with my .12-guage shotgun...

Like this comment
Posted by Protected
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 10, 2011 at 6:11 am

When I sleep in my downtown office I keep a grenade at the ready, in case Chris Zaharias goes sleepwalking with his shotgun.

Like this comment
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

Gee, I would just put in a cheap video system, not leave cash in the drawer, check up on my insurance, and sleep at home in my own bed. I have always found my wife to be more cuddlesome than a shotgun or grenade.

If you are posting "I sleep in my business" messages to try to deter further breakins, keep in mind that these guys left fingerprints, they are probably not bright enough to read this board.

Like this comment
Posted by Shotguns and Grendades Don't Snore
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2011 at 10:40 am

Pointed out by my husband as we read the comments.

Like this comment
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm

"Detective Sal Madrigal" - isn't that a great name for a crime noir/thriller novel!

Like this comment
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2011 at 1:54 pm

"Detective Sal Madrigal" - isn't that a great name for a crime noir/thriller novel!"


So sorry for the owners who, are probably like many others, struggling to make things work, especially when so many property owners in downtown Palo Alto raise rents as though these are the good times!

That being said, this has been one of the more amusing collection of posts I've read in quite a while.

Thanks to all the above!

Like this comment
Posted by nanny
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm

If business owners are leaving cash lying around over night and are not installing video cameras, it is their own fault that they got robbed and that the cops don't have enough evidence to track down the crooks. Is the city supposed to nanny the folks when budgets are so tight?

Like this comment
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm

In theory, the owners should be able to staple $100 bills to their walls in plain view and not have their shops broken into. They should not even have to lock their doors.

However, there is a difference between theory and practice. One cannot blame the breakins on the owners because they left cash in the drawer, but one would think they would know better than to create such an attraction. They create a problem for all buisnesses in the area because their area will be seen as rich pickings by certain people.

No business owner should be forced or expected to install a video system, but one might think it would be a good idea. Perhaps the businesses in that area should think about installing them. We bought a system for our home, 9 cameras with IR for $1000 off It worked great. They should position camera not only inside the store for a look at what went on, but they should also cover the exterior and their neighbors.

Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 10, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Who leaves $3800 in a cash register overnight?

Like this comment
Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Sidebar comment on video surveillance cameras-- When someone proposes that residents or businesses install them, everyone seems to think it's a good idea. But if someone proposes that the City install cameras around town for crime prevention, the civil liberties advocates start complaining about 'invasion of privacy'. It's not just a Palo Alto phenomenon, but I think I've seen the same response in other places as well.

Like this comment
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm

That is correct WilliamR, when a government agency installs video cameras it conjures up images of 1984 and Big Brother watching. But there is nothing to stop private individuals or businesses from installing them.

The only catch is that you cannot do it where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Not in bathrooms, channging rooms, or someone elses back yard. But there is no expectation of privacy on a public street, sidewalk, or open front yard. No one but you can have an expectation of privacy in your own home or yard, so you can mount your own cameras there.

You can mount cameras to watch your neighbors yards from your own yard, as long as it can be seen from the street. They will probably appreciate your doing this.

There is nothing to stop you from making oyur captured video available to police to help them solve a crime.

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

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