Palo Alto police and Stanford University are beefing up security after 11 burglary incidents took place in the past two months at the Mayfield development construction site and vicinity at Stanford Research Park, a police spokesman said.
Stanford is demolishing buildings in the 1400-1600 blocks of California Avenue to make way for 180 units of faculty housing. An alleged burglary on Jan. 11 resulted in police arriving with rifles and guns drawn one afternoon. Police arrested a man during that incident who was found inside of an unoccupied building on the 1600 block.
In all, there have been 17 incidents ranging from burglary to minor vandalism at the sites. Some of the lesser crimes, such as holes cut into fences, were not reported, police spokesman Zach Perron told the Weekly on Monday.
Police received the first burglary report on Nov. 8, Perron said. Five different sites in the area have been burglarized. One site in the 1700 block of Page Mill Road, one in the 1600 block of Page Mill Road, two in the 1500 block of California Avenue, and one in the 1600 block of California Avenue, Perron said. On those five sites, 11 cases were reported to police. Seven burglaries were completed and four were attempts, Perron said. Police have arrested four people at the sites who are allegedly connected with at least three of the cases.
The thieves have taken at least $11,000 in copper wire, copper pipes and construction tools.
"The value is often difficult to determine. It's hard to determine how much cable is stolen, for example," Perron said.
Construction sites are common targets for burglars, he added.
"There are many things of value kept at construction sites ... so burglars often target them. Typically, construction sites are vacant overnight and dark, making them good options for burglars. ... Fortunately, through partnering with the on-site security guards and some good police work, we've been able to make arrests," he said.
Members of the College Terrace Residents Association met with police after the Jan. 11 incident, which occurred at 3:20 p.m. while people were out walking with their children. The contractor had added a security guard on site, but association members and university staff met with Perron to address adding additional security.
During a Jan. 29 meeting, the university and police told association leaders that an additional security guard is being added during non-work hours. The contractor will post new signs on the construction fence. Surveillance equipment linked electronically to the security guards will also be added, the association said in an email to residents on Monday.
Stanford plans to keep the heightened security through February during demolition of 1601 California Ave. All visible copper pipes and wires are being removed by contractors at the end of each workday. The additional security will resume when actual building construction begins, according to the association.
The alleged burglars have not been armed with guns or knives when caught, but they have had burglary tools such as bolt cutters. All of the arrested burglars are from out of town and arrive by Interstate 280 and Page Mill Road. The burglars may be parking behind office buildings on Page Mill Road and going over or through the fence and vegetation between those parking lots and 1601 California Ave., according to the association's email.
Police said that people should not confront any suspicious person. Anyone who sees suspicious activity at Mayfield or in College Terrace is asked to call the Palo Alto police dispatch center at 650-329-2413. In an emergency, they should call 911.
Residents should stay inside and not approach an area of police activity. Police dispatchers will relay whatever information they can supply if residents call.
Additional information sources and updates can be found by downloading the free "Palo Alto Police Dept Mobile" app or by going to facebook.com/PaloAltoPolice; @PaloAltoPolice on Twitter or by signing up at nextdoor.com or nixle.com.