Palo Alto man wakens, scares off home burglar Monday


A burglar rummaging through a Palo Alto house at about 11:30 a.m. Jan. 20 fled after he walked into a bedroom and discovered he had awakened a sleeping resident, police are reporting.

The resident, a man in his 30s, made eye contact with the intruder, a Hispanic male, about 20 years old, with a medium build, short black hair, no facial hair, and wearing dark clothes.

The burglar immediately ran away, and the resident saw a small, silver SUV, likely manufactured within the past five years, "peel out" from in front of the home in the 900 block of El Cajon Way, police stated in a press release.

Because the resident lives with five other people, he initially assumed the stranger may have been a guest of one of his roommates, police stated. After he noticed that drawers in other rooms had been left open and things had been rummaged through, he realized the man had actually been a burglar and called the police.

The burglar likely entered the home through an unlocked sliding screen door in the backyard, after gaining entry to the backyard via an unlocked side yard gate, police said.

It is not yet known what, if any, property was stolen during the burglary.

No other residential burglaries occurred in Palo Alto that day. Detectives do not believe that this case is related to the daytime home-invasion robbery that occurred Jan. 23 on the 400 block of Palo Alto Avenue.

Police encourage residents to always close and lock doors and windows whenever they are out and to lock side-yard gates. If meter readers need to access the utility meter behind a locked gate, residents can call Palo Alto Utilities Customer Service at 650-329-2161 to discuss options.

The Palo Alto Police Department's website has a section on crime prevention tips, at There are pages on home security, recognizing suspicious behavior, and more.

Police are asking that anyone with information about this case call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff


Like this comment
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 23, 2014 at 11:27 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.


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Posted by muscial
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 24, 2014 at 1:52 am

Where what? This incident, story says 900 block of El Cajon Way, which is other side of Louis Road between Embarcadero and Oregon.

Like this comment
Posted by Wow
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jan 24, 2014 at 9:19 am

That burglar had some Cajons.

Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

Glad nobody was hurt.

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Posted by Linda
a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:14 am

I am paying for an alarm system after my home was ransacked 2 years ago. The criminal that entered my home jumped the fence in the day time while I was at work. I had a locked gate. They broke a double-paned, locked window to gain entry.
They opened all drawers in the house and took mostly just gold jewelry. (I did not have any fancy electronics.) If I open my front door there is a locked metal security screen which makes me feel safer.

My point is that you can lock all your doors and windows and that will not stop someone who decides that your belongings are what they want. Best wishes to the couple that was targeted. Your sadness and anger and horror will lessen eventually. I am so sorry that you had to experience that.

Like this comment
Posted by Scared
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm

There are so many burglaries, it's scary. Though I plan to follow the police's advice, I agree with Linda's comment that precautions alone are not enough. Our police force needs to catch these criminals.

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Posted by I'm scared, too
a resident of Woodside
on Jan 24, 2014 at 1:47 pm

My house was robbed last year. It happened around 10am when I left for an hour and a half. The police officer told me that there is very little down side for these types of criminals (the ones that just opportunistically rob a house with an open window, not the ones that rob people at gunpoint). She seemed to imply that if they get caught, it's basically a slap on the wrist and they're out. I'm not sure if this is true, but it does seem to be happening a lot more lately.

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Posted by Mimi
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm

OMG..this is not okay. I just wonder if one of the other roommates somehow knew the "burglar." This can't continue to happen in Palo Alto. What happened to the idea of setting up street video surveillance?

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Posted by Madeline
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 24, 2014 at 5:33 pm

From what I know these are high school kids mostly from East Palo Alto and Menlo Park whose parents work two understanding is that if caught the intruders get punishment and mandatory family counseling. My niece volunteered at one of the non profits that worked with the police department. Apparently, these not bad grade students, and do this out of "boredom." At least these burglaries aren't as brazen as the ones in Fremont...where you have felons under the influence and armed ...entering home invasion style robberies.

Like this comment
Posted by Watchdog
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 26, 2014 at 9:55 am

It helps to have a dog that barks also. We have ADT and dogs to protect our home, and hope those serve as deterrents.

Like this comment
Posted by Grammar Girl
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2014 at 12:18 pm

@I'm scared too: The correct word for this incident is "burglarized", not "robbed".

Robbery involves taking something valuable and using force, or the threat of force, to do so.

Burglary is also known as breaking and entering. It occurs when a person gains unauthorized access into a home, business, or other structure to commit a crime. The crime that he means to commit is not always theft. Also, the amount of force needed to get into the building does not have to be extraordinary to constitute burglary, and it can even consist of picking a lot or simply walking in.

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

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