Two men who allegedly broke into Keeble & Shuchat Photography on California Avenue early Thursday morning by ramming a van into the front of the store made off with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise and are still at large.
At about 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, the police department received a call reporting a burglary in process at the company's 261 California Ave. store, which was closed at the time. Officers responded immediately, but the suspected burglars fled before they got there.
Officers found the front of the business, which has plate glass windows and glass front doors, shattered, and a metal roll-down security gate on the inside was bent. Glass display cases inside were also shattered and merchandise appeared to be missing, police said.
The ensuing investigation, which included interviews with multiple witnesses who were in the area at the time of the early morning burglary, revealed that the two men likely reversed their vehicle into the front of the store, smashing through the front glass wall, doors and interior security gate.
While no witnesses saw the actual collision, one reported hearing a loud screech followed by a loud crash, police said. When witnesses noticed what had happened, they saw the two men getting into their vehicle and driving away at a "high rate of speed" westbound on California Avenue toward El Camino Real, police said.
Witnesses described the driver as a Hispanic male in his early- to mid-20s with a thin mustache, wearing a black and white beanie with long pull cords on each side and a black sweatshirt. Witnesses described the other suspect as a tall, thin man of unknown race wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, dark jeans and dark shoes.
Witnesses described their vehicle as an older red minivan with dark tinted windows. The rear license plate of the van was covered with black plastic.
Police said there is no video surveillance footage available for release, and no sketches of the suspects are able to be produced.
Keeble & Shuchat employees are still compiling a list of stolen merchandise and owner Terry Shuchat said he's not sure yet what the loss will be, though police said initial indications put the loss at tens of thousands of dollars.
Employees cleaning up the store on Thursday afternoon said the cost incurred by damage to the building far exceeds that of the stolen merchandise.
"We're still tallying things up," Shuchat said. "A lot of stuff was destroyed. They drove a car into a store."
Detectives are looking into the possibility that this crime may have been committed by the same men who burglarized a closed Mountain View business, Audio High, at 165 Moffett Boulevard in the early-morning hours of Feb. 9. The vehicle in that case was similar. For more information on that case and to view surveillance video footage of the suspects and vehicle, watch this Mountain View Police Department YouTube video.
Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call the police department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.