The face of a burglar was captured on video after a home surveillance system recorded a brazen theft from a south Palo Alto residence last Friday.
The burglary, which took place in Midtown, was just the latest in a string of residential break ins to strike south Palo Alto neighborhoods, according to the Palo Alto Police Department's crime logs. (Click here to see an interactive map of the burglaries).
Eight burglaries took place over a five-day period between July 18 and July 22, with about two per day. A ninth burglary occurred on July 14, according to the police logs. Neighborhoods that were hit included St. Claire Gardens, Palo Verde, Fairmeadow, Midtown, Old Palo Alto, Palo Alto Orchards and Greenmeadow.
The video from a home surveillance system in one of the Midtown incidents provides an anatomy of a burglary from start to finish and also captured the face of one of the alleged burglars.
In the video, a charcoal gray four-door sedan pulled up to the curb and a woman, who appears to be in her 20s and is either white or Hispanic with long, curly brown hair, got out of the front passenger door. She walked up the driveway and glanced up at the camera, raising her left hand to obscure her face. She then disappeared from the camera's view. The video shows her returning to the car after about a minute.
The car then made a U-turn and stopped in front of a home across the street and one house down. The woman again exited the car and walked up the driveway, disappearing from view along the front right side of the Eichler home. After about two minutes, she returned to the vehicle for less than a minute and walked back to the house.
After 11 minutes, the car backed up a few feet toward the driveway and the woman can be seen walking away from the home, carrying a load. She got in the sedan, and it drove away.
The resident said that the thieves took about $7,000 of belongings, including electronic equipment. But the burglary wasn't the first encounter the resident had had with the woman, who had visited her home two weeks prior.
"She kept ringing and ringing the bell, and then she said, 'Is so-and-so there?'" the resident said, noting that she recognized the woman and the car when she saw the video. The woman quickly left when the resident answered through the door. The resident looked through a window and saw the dark gray sedan, noting that it had no license plate and appeared to have a dealer's paper plates.
The resident said that two of her neighbors also had similar encounters with the burglars, with the woman ringing the doorbell or knocking persistently.
Palo Alto police warn residents that in most home burglaries the thieves enter through an unlocked door or window. But the Midtown resident observed that the burglars who targeted her home were bolder.
"She breaks down doors," the resident said.
The resident has supplied the police department with a copy of the video, but she also wants to set up a Neighborhood Watch program, she said.
The video can be viewed here.
Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.