Palo Alto police this week arrested three men in connection with two separate burglaries at a construction site near the College Terrace neighborhood.
A suspect in a third burglary remains at large after cutting through the fence and stealing copper piping Thursday night at the same site on the 1500 and 1600 blocks of California Avenue. Stanford University is constructing a residential development in this area that includes 112 apartments, 68 single-family homes and a community center.
The first of the three burglaries was reported on Sunday morning, when officers received a call from a woman who saw a man inside a construction site on the 1500 block of California Avenue. Officers arrived at the scene and reportedly found the man at the 2800 block of Columbia Street, driving a stolen vehicle.
Officers searched the car and found gloves, flashlights, pliers bolt cutters and other tools that can be used to commit burglary. They also found several mail items that had been stolen overnight from a residential mailbox in the area, police said.
Police had determined that the man, Michael Martinez Andres, 39, of Sunnyvale, forced his way into a locked construction site and the locked vacant building inside the site in order to steal metal. His car was allegedly stolen from San Jose several days earlier. Officers believe another suspect may have been involved in the burglary.
Police said Andres was also under the influence of alcohol at the time of the arrest and had methamphetamine in his possession. He was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle, conspiracy and identity theft, all felonies. He was also charged with several misdemeanors: possession of methamphetamine, possession of narcotics paraphernalia and driving under the influence.
Another incident at the same site occurred on Wednesday night, when a Palo Alto officer patrolling the area at around 10:30 p.m. found an occupied vehicle next to a commercial lot on the 1600 block of California. The officer also noticed a hole cut in the fence at the construction site and, suspecting a burglary in progress, detained the vehicle's occupant. Officers subsequently found wire cutters, saws and other tools just inside the hole, as well as segments of metal that were reportedly removed from the site.
Officers accompanied by a police canine then searched the inside of the property, where they quickly found a second suspect. That man initially tried to hide but then hopped the fence and ran away. After searching the area, the police dog once again found the suspect, hiding in the foliage on the 2600 block of Hanover Street. The suspect, 47-year-old Randy Ford Etzold, was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on charges of burglary, possession of burglary tools, violation of probation and resisting arrest. Police said he was on probation for burglary and possession of methamphetamine.
The man who was in the car, Jessie James Bass, 51, was booked for burglary (felony) and possession of burglary tools. Both Bass and Tezold are San Jose residents.
The Wednesday night burglary was followed by another one on Thursday night. The Police Department's dispatch center received a call Friday morning from a construction supervisor who reported that a burglary had occurred some time over night. Officers determined that one or more people entered the site late Thursday by cutting through the fence and stole copper piping. No suspect information is available at this time, police said.
According to a media release, officers plan to increase patrols in the area and are working with the property owner on ways to minimize the risk of future burglaries.
Police are asking anyone with information about any of these incidents to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by text or voice message to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the department's free mobile app, available at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.