Palo Alto police have arrested a local man who they believe tried to burglarize a home in the Fairmeadow neighborhood while the homeowner was sleeping Tuesday afternoon.
Derek Darnell Pitts, 44, was booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail on Tuesday shortly after police received a call from a resident about a man prowling in her backyard.
The man reportedly knocked on the woman's door on the 3800 block of Carlson Court while she was napping with her sleeping toddler. The woman, who is in her 30s, allegedly woke up and saw the man at her front porch but did not open the door because she did not recognize him.
The woman then reportedly watched as the man tried to open her front door and then went to the side yard and backyard to check for unlocked doors. After seeing him trying to open two doors into her home from the backyard, she immediately called the police and described the suspect, police said. He did not succeed in entering the home, police said.
Shortly after the call, officers stopped a man who matched the description on Alma Street and East Charleston Drive. The man, later identified as Pitts, was booked on one felony count of attempted residential burglary.
Palo Alto police do not believe Pitts is connected to the two cases of nighttime prowling that were reported earlier this month. The first of these occurred on July 8 in the 1000 block of Moffett Circle, while the second took place on July 14 on the 200 block of Emerson Street. The descriptions of the suspects in those cases were markedly different from the one in the Tuesday incident.
Police said the Tuesday incident highlights a common method used by residential burglars. First, they ring the doorbell to see if someone is home. If someone answers, they pose as solicitors or supposedly looking for someone who does not live there. If they receive no answer, burglars often look for access to the backyard and then try to break into the home unnoticed by passersby, police said.
Police encourage residents to speak through their doors to ask who is there or to indicate in some other way that someone is home.
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 emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.