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 www.cityofpaloalto.org/StopCrime.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.