News

Burglars smash vehicle into Apple Store in Palo Alto

Eight to 10 people steal electronics, four apprehended

A burglary ring crashed through the front glass windows of the downtown Palo Alto Apple Store early Sunday morning by driving a SUV into the building and stealing an unknown quantity of merchandise, Palo Alto police said.

Eight to 10 thieves entered the store at 340 University Ave. and quickly stole a large number of items at about 4:38 a.m. The police dispatch center received a call of a vehicle crashed into the building and that witnesses had seen multiple people running from the area. Responding officers found an abandoned gray 2016 Kia Soul on the sidewalk in front of the store with major damage. A 40-foot-tall panel of the glass storefront had been shattered but was still hanging in place, police said in a statement.

The vehicle had punched a hole about hood height in the bottom of the glass, and it appears the burglars crawled into the building through the hole, Det. James Reifschneider said by phone.

“It looks like the amount of force required to make the hole disabled the vehicle,” he said. Police located four people hunkered down nearby and placed them under arrest. It is likely they were stranded after their vehicle was heavily damaged, Reifschneider said. No one appears to have been injured.

Officers located a second unoccupied vehicle, a black 2013 Hyundai Sonata, abandoned in the alleyway of Lane 20 West, adjacent to City Parking Garage “S” at 445 Bryant St., and just across the street from the Apple store. Numerous stolen Apple computers and phones were strewn on the ground nearby, which officers recovered, he said.

Video surveillance footage from the Apple Store showed that the burglars were wearing hooded sweatshirts with the hoods up to conceal their identities; gender, race, and even age are not discernible in the video, police said in their statement.

But during a search of the surrounding area, officers located the four individuals and detained them without incident for investigation. Detectives later placed the four persons under arrest for burglary, vandalism, and conspiracy -- all felonies.

Police booked 19-year-old Shaquin K. Ferguson, who has no permanent address and is on parole for weapons violations, and 18-year-old Erica Jaynisha White of Oakland into the Santa Clara County Main Jail. Police transported two juvenile males from Oakland, ages 16 and 17, to Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall.

Reifschneider said that at this point, the exact dollar loss of the burglary is unknown. Apple Store personnel are taking inventory of exactly what was stolen and what items remain outstanding. He said it is unknown if the outstanding burglars made off with merchandise either on foot or in another vehicle, or if the large number of items they ditched near the second car will constitute all or the bulk of the items stolen.

Detectives are continuing to actively investigate the case and are working to identify and arrest the remaining suspects. Police will not be releasing the surveillance video or still images, they said.

“Since the faces of the suspects are not readily discernible and detectives have sufficient leads already to pursue, the value of releasing the video does not outweigh the potential to jeopardize the ongoing investigation,” the department said in a statement.

Reifschneider said by phone that detectives are investigating any possible connection between the Palo Alto incident and other burglaries of Apple stores throughout the Bay Area. None of the other cases involved smashing into he stores with a vehicle, he said. At this time, police have not connected the four arrested suspects to any other cases.

On Sunday, employees were working to secure the store, which remained closed. A black curtain and barrier around the front of the building protected it from view. Workmen appeared to be reinforcing the corner where the burglars had smashed through and were installing new glass. An Apple Store employee referred all questions to the corporate office.

As of late afternoon University Avenue remained closed to eastbound traffic for one block starting from Bryant Street.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Palo Alto Police Department’s 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

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Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Nic
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 5, 2016 at 11:01 am

Hmmm, hoodies, must have been local techies.


2 people like this
Posted by Jozie
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 5, 2016 at 11:28 am

There are cement bollards in front of the Apple Store (visible in photos) that I assume are in place to prevent such an occurrence. How did the thieves get around those?


Like this comment
Posted by Name
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2016 at 12:14 pm

@ Jozie,

See the 4th photo. In that photo is a man wearing a white hooded jacket and he's standing near the eastern side of the store. I would guess the thieves hit the store from that side, near where the man is standing. From that angle, the thieves might avoid hitting the bollards.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 5, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Yes (but _western_ side of the store) -- there's a larger gap between the rightmost bollard and the stoplight pole. Google Maps has a streetview. I wonder how many tries it took to find a speed that would penetrate, but not too fast bouncing over the curb. I suspect if a car was nosed up to the glass, the tires would just spin. I assume the airbags went off. Workmen were still there at 10pm last night. I haven't dropped by yet today.


9 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 5, 2016 at 12:50 pm

The bollards were seriously to protect against a burglary???
We always assumed they were in case a drunk driver speeding down Florence Street confused the glass storefront for a through street.


3 people like this
Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 5, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Mama is a registered user.

Great work by the local police!


Like this comment
Posted by Name
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2016 at 1:52 pm

@ musical

Techaeris' photo [ at Web Link ] suggests these idiots drove through what I think of as the eastern side of the building.

Book 'em, Danno!


7 people like this
Posted by Need better entrance
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 5, 2016 at 2:15 pm

I hope they replace the front with a more tasteful entry, less garish and boastful.

Need an entry that is better at managing the reverberating sound in the store which is lined with hard surfaces that create a hollow noisy environment. Maybe they like the noisy sound to give the impression of lots of customers. I'm a customer and I find it unpleasant.


3 people like this
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Gethin is a registered user.

Good job by the PD. I hope they get them all ASAP.


1 person likes this
Posted by waaat???
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 5, 2016 at 7:25 pm

Don't these devices have GPS tracking on them? How did the thieves expect to get away with a rental car? Don't you need an ID to rent a car? There are cameras everywhere and the plates can be traced back to a rental car service. I would put an instant alert tracking system on these devices if the cords on these devices are cut. Or an RF chip at the very least.


1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 5, 2016 at 7:43 pm

When they were building the store I told those Apple people they should put those bollards adjacent to the window, where they could protect it, instead of planting them out at the curb where they are only effective at taking away parking places.

Apple has very smart people designing its gadgets. Its stores...not so smart.


3 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 5, 2016 at 9:00 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Curmudgeon - bollards at the curb also protect people on the sidewalk, so it is a reasonable tradeoff.


8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 5, 2016 at 9:00 pm

Putting the bollards at the curb also protects pedestrians on the sidewalk from iphone-distracted drivers. Apple probably blocked off the parking spaces to make their expensive storefront look prettier from across the street.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 6, 2016 at 12:39 am

The parking situation looks like a City thing rather than an Apple thing. Sure makes the pedestrian crossings more comfortable, as you are not walking off the sidewalk between cars that are maneuvering to parallel park. And the bike parking on either side makes visibility that much better.

@Name, thanks for the link to earlier photos before the black curtain arrived. Interesting how well the glass held up -- probably not at all what the perpetrators expected. Very tight squeeze to get in and out carrying anything. Fascinating fracture properties of tempered glass, making the entire panel appear finely and uniformly white-frosted. I stepped into the store this evening before closing time and it was business as usual. The hole is boarded up, and no word on when the replacement piece will be delivered and installed.


Like this comment
Posted by Clearly Better
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Dec 7, 2016 at 9:57 am

The stolen merchandise is nearly worthless when compared to the damage to the facade.

Items on the table are locked with proprietary software....they are essentially beautiful bricks once they leave the store.

Those glass panels are fabricated outside of the USA. They are three to four layers of heat strengthened glass with a PVB interply. These structural glass panels are ridiculously strong. You could not beat your way through them with a baseball bat and a tire iron if I gave you an entire day.

These guys were really lucky. They caught the edge of the panel and got the PVB to rip...and that gave them entry. This was pure dumb luck.

I would hazard to guess that replacing the glass will cost Apple north of $100k (temporary protection/materials/labor).

As far as getting away with the crime...these guys luck will run out pretty quickly. Each of these stores is equip with a ShopperTrak. Hoodies will not hide their cellphones.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 7, 2016 at 9:57 pm

"@Curmudgeon - bollards at the curb also protect people on the sidewalk, so it is a reasonable tradeoff."

Then why don't we have that arrangement everywhere downtown? People on every sidewalk are potentially endangered by every parking car.

No, Occam's Razor says these bollards are to protect Apple's temptingly vulnerable display windows. And Tuesday's news says they don't work.

Better buy your new iThingies now, before their price goes up to cover Apple's new insurance premiums.


Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 31, 2016 at 6:34 pm

Unclear if there was a second car.... It says SUV, but is a Kia Soul really an SUV? Also, how are 10 people going to escape in a Kia Soul?


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