Palo Alto police are seeking a man who they said went on a thieving spree in the College Terrace neighborhood on Thursday night and whose image they believe was briefly captured by a resident's surveillance camera.
The thief allegedly struck five residences between 8 p.m. Thursday, April 30, and 7:30 a.m. Friday, May 1, and may have gone for a sixth, on the 2000 block of Oberlin Street, had he not been scared off by motion-sensor light. A surveillance video from the residence showed a man with a light complexion in a white long-sleeved shirt and dark pants walking a dark mountain bike near the front of the home at about 5:10 a.m. on Friday, before getting on the bike and pedaling away.
The homeowner at the Oberlin Street home became aware of the thefts after other College Terrace residents began discussing it on the social-networking site Nextdoor, police said. He subsequently checked the surveillance video, found the footage and provided it to the police, who released it to the public Monday afternoon.
In four of the five incidents, the man allegedly entered the private properties through an unlocked door or passage, rummaged and made off with one or more items. In the 2200 block of Princeton Street, he reportedly entered an unlocked structure in the backyard and stole a laptop computer, a power tool and a black-and-silver Trek mountain bike.
That bike was later located in front of a house in the 900 block of College Avenue, next to another house that the suspect allegedly broke into. In the College Avenue burglary, the suspect allegedly entered the garage through an unlocked side door, rummaged around and stole a bicycle and some clothes.
The suspect is also believed to have stolen another bike on the 2100 block of Princeton Street after he entered a home through a side yard. In that case, the stolen bike was a Cannondale mountain bike that police say may or may not have been locked to itself. And in the 2300 block of Yale Street, the suspect is believed to have entered a backyard storage area and made off with a locked blue-and-white Specialized Allez road bike.
The fifth incident involved a parked car on the 2100 block of Oberlin Street. The suspect allegedly entered the car, which was likely unlocked, rummaged around and took a couple of items of personal property.
Palo Alto police believe the man in the surveillance video may have been responsible for some or all of the reported thefts and are asking the public for help.
Anyone with information about this suspect or these incidents is asked to call the 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.
Police also encourage residents to always close and lock doors and windows overnight and to lock side yard gates whenever they are out. If a meter readers needs to access a utility meter behind a locked gate, customers are encouraged to call Palo Alto Utilities Customer Service at 650-329-2161 to discuss options.