Three men, two of them wearing masks and one posing as a pizza delivery man, forced their way into a Palo Alto home Sunday night, according to police.
The men fled the scene less than a minute later after being confronted by one of the residents.
At about 9:45 p.m., the police department's 24-hour dispatch center received a call from an occupant from a home in the 4200 block of Suzanne Drive, reporting that three men had forcibly tried to enter the home but fled when they were confronted by other occupants.
Investigators said a couple in their 40s and their three children (an adult female in her late teens and two children ages 8 and 11), who recently moved into the home, were inside the residence in the Palo Alto Orchards neighborhood at the time of the incident. A man holding a pizza-delivery bag reportedly knocked on the door and the adult daughter answered it. The woman told the man that the family did not order the pizza and began to close the door when the man pushed his way into the home, followed by two men wearing masks and armed with a semi-automatic pistol and knife, police said.
The mother confronted the suspects and when she began to scream, one of the masked suspects covered her mouth with his hand. When the father ran to help his wife and daughter, the three suspects fled on foot.
The three men were only in the home for less than a minute and did not make it past the entryway of the home, police said. No property was taken. Officers responded to the scene and conducted an area search, but did not find the suspects.
A witness heard a car speeding away but did not see what type of vehicle it was, police said.
No residents sustained serious injury, but the mother received a small scratch near her mouth when the suspect was trying to cover it. She did not request medical aid.
The victims described the fake pizza delivery man as a white male in his 20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 170 pounds. He had blond hair and brown eyes, and was wearing a white long-sleeved shirt under a red short-sleeved T-shirt with yellow and white writing on the front.
The two masked men were described as about 6 feet 2 inches tall and 220 pounds with muscular builds. They were wearing all black clothing and black masks. One of the victims is meeting with a police sketch artist later today to describe the first suspect, police said. Police will release the sketch when it becomes available.
Detectives are actively investigating the case, but believe that it is an isolated incident because preliminary information gathered at the scene shows that the suspects specifically picked the family, police said. Police are not specifying why the family was singled out because they believe could compromise the ongoing investigation.
Armed home-invasion robbery attempts are rare in Palo Alto, police said. The last similar incident occurred in January 2014.
Police recommend that when a stranger comes to the door to talk through the door to ask who is there or acknowledge in some manner that someone is home.
Anyone with information pertaining to 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.