Dog helps Palo Alto police nab suspected copper thieves

Police say the two men are linked to three burglaries at the Hanover Street commercial building

Palo Alto police got some help from a surveillance camera and dog in arresting an uncle and a nephew who were allegedly trying to burglarize a vacant commercial building in Stanford Research Park on Sunday morning, police said.

The two men, an uncle and a nephew, were reportedly captured by surveillance cameras as they got inside the building on the 3200 block of Hanover Street -- a building that had already been burglarized twice earlier this month. A security guard to saw the footage and at around 8 a.m. called the police, who arrived on the scene and saw the two men running on the roof of the building and scrambling to hide from officers, police said.

James Andrew Newell. Photo courtesy of Palo Alto Police Department

John Matthew Newell. Photo courtesy of Palo Alto Police Department
Palo Alto officers, with help from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office canine unit, searched the building and ultimately found one of the suspects -- later identified as 54-year-old John Matthew Newell – hiding in a room. Police said Newell, who has no permanent address, disobeyed commands and was bitten on the arm by a dog before he was taken into custody.

The second suspect was located shortly thereafter as he was hiding on the roof. James Andrew Newell, 28, of Burlingame, was arrested without incident, police said. Officers found that the two men were in possession of burglary tools, including flashlights, gloves, wire cutters and power tools. In addition, James Andrew Newell allegedly had a pipe used to smoke narcotics, police said.

Police said John Newell suffered a puncture wound as a result of the dog bite and was taken to a local hospital, where he was cleared for incarceration. After the incident, detectives obtained information linking the two men to the prior two burglaries involving this building, on Oct. 14 and 28. In both of those incidents, copper wiring was stolen from inside the building.

The two men were booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail for three counts of felony commercial burglary and one count of misdemeanor possession of burglary tools. James Newell also faces a misdemeanor count of possession of narcotics paraphernalia.

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 e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the department's free mobile app, downloadable at or

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2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2016 at 7:02 pm

I wonder who is the ringleader of this crime family? Has either of them been arrested before?

9 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2016 at 9:49 am

Brings back the phrase "Take A Bite Out Of Crime".

3 people like this
Posted by Howard
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Great article!! As the founder of Palo Alto Dog Owners, I am always happy to see when a dog demonstrates why so many of us have and love dogs. Well trained dogs really are humankind's best friend. What could have been a much more dangerous incident was resolved with the help of a trained canine. Of course, responsible training is the key. It takes dedicated owners, including police officers, to train and bring out the best in our dogs. Household dogs need to be socialized, and that is why we have been working so hard to get decent and additional dog parks in Palo Alto.

1 person likes this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 4, 2016 at 1:31 pm

What a gene pool! And thanks for the pictures.

4 people like this
Posted by anne
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2016 at 1:43 am

Canine Copper Ends Copper Caper!

C'mon Weekly, that was too good to let slide...

Great job, K9!

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

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