Palo Alto: Burglary suspect arrested after leaving driver's license

Detectives investigating if suspect connected to other residential burglaries

Palo Alto police arrested a woman Monday morning for residential burglary after she accidentally dropped her driver's license while struggling with the homeowner to get away.

Police received a call at 10:35 a.m. from a resident in the 1000 block of Moffett Circle reporting that a burglary had just occurred. The homeowner, a woman in her 40s, said she had returned home to find a woman running out of her house, carrying a backpack full of her property. The homeowner tried to stop the woman, and the two got into a physical confrontation, police said.

During the course of the struggle, the alleged burglar dropped her driver's license before abandoning the stolen property and driving away. The homeowner called police and provided officers with the getaway vehicle's license plate and the woman's driver's license number.

At 10:56 a.m., a detective located the vehicle, a beige 2006 Honda Pilot, which was parked at the woman's residence in the 1900 block of Euclid Avenue in East Palo Alto. Officers arrested 20-year-old Giovanna Vargas Hernandez without incident shortly after 11 a.m.

The investigation revealed that Hernandez had entered the unoccupied Moffett Circle home through an unlocked window in the backyard. Hernandez, who was working alone, ransacked the home and loaded a laptop computer and other items of personal property into the backpack, police said. The homeowner sustained minor scrapes to one of her arms as a result of the physical struggle, but she did not require medical treatment. She recovered all of her property outside of her home, police said.

Police booked Hernandez into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for two felonies, residential burglary and robbery. The latter charge was a result of the physical struggle over the stolen property.

Detectives are investigating if Hernandez might be connected with any other residential burglaries in Palo Alto or surrounding communities.

Police recommend that residents lock and secure all doors and windows whenever they are not home. Crime-prevention tips are available at

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the police department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

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24 people like this
Posted by slam dunk
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Great job homeowner and PAUSD!

15 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:28 pm

Sadly, we are getting to a point in which terrible human beings like this aren't even embarrassed by their criminal acts.

I saw a video tonight from Baltimore in which the man who was looting products from a store was asked by a reporter why he was doing this. The man replied, "It's society's fault! They're keeping us down!"

When will people take responsibility for themselves and their own actions? The acts and responses of this young woman saddens me. She should be embarrassed by her actions. Her family should be embarrassed. Her neighbors and city should be embarrassed. As a Hispanic woman, I am embarrassed.

How do we teach people to be proactive in their own lives? How do we teach people who aren't embarrassed by criminal behavior to be honest, moral and upright? How do we teach them to be good citizens?

I am beginning to think that such individuals lack empathy for anyone outside of themselves and those closest to them. This is what empowers a woman like this to steal and wrestle with a homeowner. This is what empowers people to loot, shoot or hurt others. Is this lack of empathy a learned behavior? Or is it that empathy itself isn't taught -- by parents, family, community and schools?

I shiver when I think what life will be like in a couple of decades if society stays on this track.

10 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 28, 2015 at 8:46 am

I am concerned as to how the robber determined that no one was home. Was she casing the area earlier to figure out when people typically leave and return?
Is she associated with other people who are on that block on a regular basis for maintenance?

Hopefully more information can be provided since entering a home on the assumption that no one is there is not a random situation - it requires some planning.

6 people like this
Posted by Raymond
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Apr 28, 2015 at 10:35 am

I live one block from this person. There have been four burglaries in the past 6 yrs, that I know of, at my address alone.

4 people like this
Posted by Wrong acronym
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 28, 2015 at 12:45 pm

@slam dunk- While they might thank you for the credit, I don't think PAUSD (Palo Alto Unified School District) had anything to do with this. I think you meant PAPD (Palo Alto Police Department). LOL

6 people like this
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Gethin is a registered user.

Its good news that the homeowner was able to prevent the theft and not get hurt doing so. And good job PAPD for such a quick arrest. What kind of person is too stupid to even be a lowlife petty criminal?

7 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 28, 2015 at 2:20 pm

[Post removed.]

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

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