News

Police: Armed men break into Palo Alto home

One suspect posed as pizza delivery man

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 paloalto@tipnow.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

Comments

22 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 3, 2015 at 9:50 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

Truly horrific - very sorry for the family who went through this. THeir lives will never be the same.


15 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2015 at 10:17 am

With multiple victim witnesses, I hope the police can quickly publish artist sketches of this blond white male attacker in his 20s.


9 people like this
Posted by Cranky Old Lady
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 3, 2015 at 11:03 am

What an awful experience for this family. Stories like these are one reason I never open the door to someone I don't know, even though I know most of the strangers are harmless.


15 people like this
Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 3, 2015 at 11:11 am

Camera's people, CAMERA'S. Even on a budget, you can put up one or two Lorex camera's over your front door, and look at the screen when someone is outside. Dogs are helpful too.


4 people like this
Posted by litgal
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 3, 2015 at 11:14 am

Again, it just goes to show you shouldn't open the door to strangers, under any circumstances, except of course on Halloween. And even then one needs to be careful.


6 people like this
Posted by questions
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 3, 2015 at 11:24 am

Would like to know why this home was targeted and not, say their neighbors. Do cameras really help?
Why wait for the family to be home and not just do a simple B&E?


14 people like this
Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2015 at 12:28 pm

There are lots if questions. Why would these men target a home with a whole family at home?


5 people like this
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Gethin is a registered user.

I am glad to hear that no one in the family was hurt and that the burglary was a failure. Two bigs guys with a gun and a knife, and a third on point, that is hard core.
Bad choice of victim, I must admit I wonder if they meant to hit someone else and screwed up. After all these type are pretty damn stupid.


1 person likes this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 3, 2015 at 1:39 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@nat - home invasion robberies target people at home for several reasons. They may want things that you carry with you, like your phones, watch, or jewelry (engagement ring). They may want your car which you just drove home. And they may have followed you home from the bank or the shopping center where you purchased something valuable. They may know via a housekeeper or contractor that you have a safe, and want you home so you can open it.


2 people like this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 3, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Need more police patrol in the neighborhood. The location of incident is bordering other cities and has many school near.


6 people like this
Posted by Rose A
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 3, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Rose A is a registered user.

I'm so sorry this happened--it must have been terrifying. I'm glad that no one was seriously injured. My thoughts are with the family.


Like this comment
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 3, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@questions - if a camera doesn't work as a deterrent (which is the hope), at least it can help police track down the criminals.


12 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 3, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Get over one's installed notion of "being polite." You are under NO OBLIGATION at all to open your door to a stranger, regardless of their "story" or "spiel" or however they attempt to cajole or intimidate you.
Get a "no solicitor's sign" I wouldn't have one except it is clearly needed based on experience.
This is YOUR property (or your rental) and strangers have NO RIGHT to threaten or tell lies for sales or fraud or criminal purposes there.
Keep the door shut unless YOU choose to open it.


5 people like this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 3, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Surveillance Cameras should be strategically installed at Fire Station 5. These cameras can monitor the movements of in and out traffic from the side streets and traffic on Arastradero Road


7 people like this
Posted by Grumpy Old Guy
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Aug 3, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Grumpy Old Guy is a registered user.

This confirms the adage, we survive together, we die alone. Time to know your neighbors, watch for suspicious vehicles and when unknown solicitors show up on your door - call the cops. (they're supposed to be registered with the PA police before they can knock on your doors; and they're always college students looking to sell magazines or asking for your support for progressive causes). If you're not sure, call the police, they'd be glad to visit you to help check it out. They'd rather do this than visit you as a victim of a serious crime.


4 people like this
Posted by SA
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Aug 3, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Someone has been rummaging through our cars in this area, wonder if it's the same people. Our old neighborhood along Miranda is also experiencing the same problem. Please file reports if someone went through your car in the past couple of months or so, even if nothing was taken. Maybe a flood of reports will result in increased patrolling, and will provide better stats around the true frequency of these incidents.


2 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2015 at 5:20 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

I hope that they catch these thugs.


2 people like this
Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2015 at 8:53 pm

Years ago, there was a targeted invasion robbery on my street. The theory was that the family just moved in, and the movers noticed that there was a safe.

Don't know the final outcome, but I did provide the police a detailed video of the get away car.

Local homeowner surveillance cameras are useful.


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2015 at 9:19 pm

I'm sorry hear this happened to someone just going about their normal business and touched by this kind of criminal violence. It could well have ended up anywhere, much worse.

>> Armed home-invasion robbery attempts are rare in Palo Alto, police said.
>> The last similar incident occurred in January 2014.

I really do not like that description of rare ... once every year and a half is not rare enough, that is for sure. Why do the police want to put a spin on it. When you consider these public shootings, they are rare too, but that really does not mean anything or make anyone feel any better, particularly those who are touched by this might feel it is being minimized.

Best wishes to the family and best hopes to the PAPD to find and apprehend the creeps who did this.


2 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2015 at 10:08 pm

anonymous (Duveneck/St. Francis) wrote:

"Get a "no solicitor's sign" I wouldn't have one except it is clearly needed based on experience.
This is YOUR property (or your rental) and strangers have NO RIGHT to threaten or tell lies for sales or fraud or criminal purposes there."

Solicitors ignore those signs.

The most effective conversation ender I've discovered is to simply say, "We're eating." It doesn't really matter what time of the day it is. If they continue, just repeat the phrase and add "Did you not understand what I just said?"

End of discussion. End of solicitation attempt.

This strategy has worked every single time for me for *decades.* It is probably rooted in a prehistoric and primal understanding that you do not interrupt creatures when they are eating. Regardless, it works. No confrontation, no excuses, no bungled attempts at ending the conversation. It's over once you say that you are eating.


Like this comment
Posted by +1 for dogs
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 4, 2015 at 4:33 am

Even if you don't want to own the kind of dog that could make a difference in this situation, a large (yet tasteful) "Beware of dog" sign near the front door seems like a good investment.


2 people like this
Posted by pares
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 4, 2015 at 5:04 pm

@reader -- you've had good luck with just saying "we're eating" and solicitors go away. Usually I get the response, "no problem, I'll return later." And they do return later. So, we put up a no solicitor's sign although there are those who ignore the sign. Best is to use the intercom and say no thank you, not interested. Also, we sometimes just do not answer unless we think it is someone we know.

Not answering could mean they think no one is home -- so we put up surveillance cameras. Didn't really like the idea, but believe it is better to do so.


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

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