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 firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.