News

Smash-and-grab car burglars caught minutes before their attempt to flee

Backpacks taken from vehicles in parking garage quickly found, returned

Two men who were caught allegedly burglarizing two cars at a downtown Palo Alto parking garage were arrested late last week with help from a witness who notified authorities of the break-ins as they unfolded, police said Wednesday.

The witness called police dispatch to report an auto burglary in progress at the 445 Bryant St. parking garage shortly after 9:30 p.m. Thursday, according to a police press release. The structure is between Lytton and University avenues, near Joya Restaurant and Lounge and Cogswell Plaza. She told a dispatcher that she saw two males peer into cars, then heard glass break and the sound of running.

Officers were able to stop two men leaving the parking structure who matched the descriptions provided by the witness, according to police. They also found two vehicles in the garage with smashed windows.

Police found a backpack taken from one of the vehicles in the garage stairwell and returned it to its owner; a second backpack that belonged to another burglary victim was discarded in the area, police said.

The 18-year-olds, each arrested for alleged auto burglary and conspiracy to commit auto burglary, were booked into Santa Clara County jail.

In light of the smash-and-grab burglaries, police are warning the public of the dangers in keeping their valuables in their car, where thieves are known to look inside for items left in plain view. Drivers also are advised to lock their vehicles and roll up their windows as precautions.

Police also have cautioned the public of the risk in placing their valuables in their trunk, where thieves can smash a window to push the trunk release and hunt for property.

Anyone with information about Thursday's break-ins is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.

Editor's note: The Weekly's policy is to withhold the names of those arrested for most crimes until the District Attorney has determined there is sufficient evidence to file charges in the case. See our guidelines here.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

39 people like this
Posted by lock them up
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Apr 24, 2019 at 9:32 am

Lock them up. No more catch and release for burglars.


44 people like this
Posted by A PAPD Idea
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2019 at 9:45 am

> Lock them up. No more catch and release for burglars.

To get these individuals off the streets, out of PA & into jail I suggest the following...

(1) BAIT a vehicle by leaving something along the lines of an Apple laptop/pad on the passenger seat.

(2) Wait for one of these incorrigibles to break the auto glass & retrieve the item.

(3) Arrest them on the spot & throw them into county jail pending trial.

This is not entrapment because no one is telling or asking them to proceed with the burglary.

A law-abiding citizen would not ordinarily be breaking into someone else's car & taking something that didn't belong to them.

Soon 'word on the street' will be leave PA cars alone.


18 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2019 at 9:58 am

The cycle is crime gets really bad, people want tougher enforcement and punishment, more creeps and crooks get caught, convicted and incarcerated, crime declines then people start to forget as a new, enlightened generation comes along to complain about police brutality, over-charging, the supremacy of perpetrators rights, the pressing need for judicial reform, the need to release the sad souls serving time back into our communities, the importance of giving them the vote, etc. and crime once again begins to rise. Repeats the cycle about every 10-15 years.
Communities should never tolerate those who prey on the vulnerable and the law abiding. Make these offenders work off their time with labor that benefits to good people and repays the victims. At this point in the cycle, time to get tough again.


30 people like this
Posted by Khaild
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2019 at 11:25 am

>> ....crime declines then people start to forget as a new, enlightened generation comes along to complain about police brutality, over-charging, the supremacy of perpetrators rights, the pressing need for judicial reform, the need to release the sad souls serving time back into our communities, the importance of giving them the vote, etc. and crime once again begins to rise. Repeats the cycle about every 10-15 years.

No sympathy for criminals. ^^This is not enlightenment but stupidity.

Though I no longer reside in my former country, the laws for these kinds of crimes are far more harsher & the criminals deserve no mercy...especially if they are repeat offenders.


18 people like this
Posted by Rehabilitation
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Rehabilitation is a registered user.

Currently criminals are warehoused at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Decades ago, this department did true rehabilitation. Now it focuses on punishment. How can we expect criminals not to reoffend if we do not rehabilitate them and provide a path to reintegrate into society? Instead prisons have effectively become training grounds for criminality.

We got rid of rehabilitation through misguided ideas that it was being soft on crime.

We should spend more money on preventing crime in the first place by making sure that every child gets a properly pre-K to 12 education. Those who are not educated often turn to crime.

We should diagnose and properly treat mental illness. Our mental institutions were largely closed in the 1960s, with the intent to replace them with community-based services. Those community-based services never were built to meet the need. So we have mentally ill people instead being homeless and incarcerated in our jails and prisons. (Note I am not suggesting that all or more homeless people are mentally ill, but do observe that there is a vicious cycle between homelessness and mental illness, and that we need to provide housing with supportive services to treat the unhoused.)

England treats drug addition as a medical problem. We consider drug addition as a legal problem. Drug treatment is cheaper than incarceration and also much more effective, but we are not funding it adequately.

Instead, we have the prison-industrial complex, with police in poor schools as part of the pathway to prison.

I'm not suggesting sympathy for criminals. I'm instead suggesting understanding and addressing root causes, and doing evidence-based treatment of the mentally ill and drug addicts. And prevention (like adequately funded education for the poor) works much better than the cure (like prison).


13 people like this
Posted by Lock Down For Serious Offenders
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 24, 2019 at 1:14 pm

>> So we have mentally ill people instead being homeless and incarcerated in our jails and prisons.

And their needs (food/shelter/clothing/medical) are being met. Better than being homeless on the streets...freedom or no freedom.

>> Now it focuses on punishment. How can we expect criminals not to reoffend if we do not rehabilitate them and provide a path to reintegrate into society?

Many cannot be reintegrated into society. Prison keeps them sequestered from mainstream society & protects society as a whole.

>> I'm instead suggesting understanding and addressing root causes,

Root causes = bad parenting, bad peer groups, minimal focus on education, poverty & bad attitude.

Some of the incarcerated could probably be released after serving some time but 'lifers' should remain behind bars.

We've already eliminated the death penalty in CA. What more do these sociopaths want?

Like saying the late Charles Manson & most of the individuals on Death Row can be 'rehabilitated'. Seriously?


4 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2019 at 1:58 pm

For many crimes like smash and grab the problem to address is failed parenting, i.e. society really needs to improve the many circumstances that produce damaged children and dysfunctional adults. Rehab is always floated as society’s obligation but practically, ‘fixing’ all of the people prone to addiction, crime, personality issues, those unprepared or incapable of holding a job or disinclined to complete school, those with problems in relationships or those who abandon their families and those prone to criminality seems to be an ever expanding industry which as a whole, society can’t afford. Too many failed people results in failed societies. In many ways children have been severely impacted by the reduction or complete loss of male and female parents who, despite decades of alternative thinking remain necessary minimums for successful parenting. There are other essentials, of course, but the point is, many believe government or teachers or police or jailers should be fixing things but that is no solution. More societal focus and support for responsible parenting - not more decay - is needed.
City streets have to be clean. Laws have to be enforced. Adults have to insist that people behave. We need to produce better people.


17 people like this
Posted by Happened to me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2019 at 2:11 pm

I was a victim of smash-and-grab not long ago. it is a serious life disruption.
Had to get the car window replaced and the shattered glass vacuumed out.

I did not have anything of "value" in the car but those vandals cause a mess and lot of grief besides the expense.


19 people like this
Posted by Rehabilitation
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Rehabilitation is a registered user.

@ Lock Down for Serious Offenders

Life imprisonment without parole is cheaper than the death penalty. And certainly there are some for whom life imprisonment is appropriate. But it has been documented that juvenile hall often does more harm by training how to do crime rather than rehabilitate. And police in poor schools often send pupils on the path to prison for transgressions that would be forgiven when done by white kids attending wealthy schools.

@ George wrote:
>> City streets have to be clean. Laws have to be enforced. Adults have to insist that people behave. We need to produce better people.

For the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation:

In 2016-2017 it cost an average of $70,836 to house an inmate for one year.

Annual budget $11.3 billion (2017/2018)

The California State General Fund budget towards the University of California in 2017/2018 was $3.35 billion.

The California State General Fund budget towards the California State University system in 2017/2018 was almost $3.5 billion

So we spend 50% more state general funds on state prisons that on higher education. There's something wrong with that picture.


13 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2019 at 2:29 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

It would be nice to force thieves caught a second or third time with bright orange locked mittens (not gloves) along with a tracking device.

The mittens would include the person's name, the court conviction and the words, "WARNING: KNOWN THIEF."


13 people like this
Posted by Rehabilitation
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Rehabilitation is a registered user.

@ Happened to me

We do need to enforce these laws and catch these criminals. But we cannot afford to keep them in jail for the rest of their lives. Restorative justice, for example, is more effective than incarceration.


10 people like this
Posted by Rehabilitation
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Rehabilitation is a registered user.

@ Nayeli

What kind of honest employment could they have afterwards? If there are no paths to honest employment, recidivism is to be expected.


8 people like this
Posted by Rehab With Limits
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2019 at 2:55 pm

(1) Possible rehabilitation efforts for juveniles is reasonable providing a violent crime wasn't involved. If a violent crime was committed, lock them up & throw away the keys.

(2) For multi-offender adults (who have taken their share of 'rehab' courses), if they continually screw-up and are found guilty, lock them up & throw away the keys.

Simple as that!

Better to incarcerate over the long-term rather than tie up the court system & waste law enforcement time.

Besides, if they are in jail/prison it's no longer a problem for the rest of us.


7 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 24, 2019 at 4:39 pm

OH YEAH .... great job PAPD! AND - thank you to the witness who called the police!

I experienced a smash and grab decades ago and it still a very bad memory.

I understand the sentiment, but just remember though, that "throwing away the key" costs upwards of $80K a year. We have to create better citizens in America. Another possibility is to have different strata of citizens, where some people live in a kind of managed care environment where they should work and, get educated and get some kind of treatment.

In a place where labor pays so poorly, and life is so expensive, what do you expect the increasing number of losers are going to do?


1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 24, 2019 at 4:44 pm

[Post removed.]


22 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 24, 2019 at 4:57 pm

I have zero sympathy for criminals, adult or juvenile, but once they are in prison, we should follow the example of enlightened societies like Norway, Denmark and Holland, and try to rehabilitate them through psychological counseling and skill training. Unless they are in prison for life without the possibility of parole, or on death row, they will get out at some point, and the question is do we want them out as hardened violent criminals far more dangerous to the society than ever, or as hopefully people who are ready to integrate into the society who wouldn't be career criminals.

Revenge and 'lock em up and throw away the key' is a primal instinct but it is actually counter productive, and just like the death penalty, it doesn't deter those people at all. I hope those two losers serve up a few years in prison if convicted, but do we want them to get out as future killers?


3 people like this
Posted by Protect society!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2019 at 6:04 pm

In current times in California, there is no emphasis on protecting society!
Our state politicians curry favor with all groups except victim’s rights groups. It’s outrageous - and dangerous, costly, inconvenient.
Criminals see open season in California recently. For example, I strenuously oppose recent proposals to let felons or incarcerated felons vote (both entertained by Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris in odd pandering for votes moves). Why on earth is this a priority!?
Bring back an iota of common sense. Kamala Harris is the least-“prosecutoral” prosecutor I have ever seen! Bernie Sanders is pretty transparent and consistent, while I don’t agree with most of his positions, at least he’s consistent. Our new governor’s current wife is the daughter of a billionaire, how convenient to never worry about the tremendous tax and cost burdens being placed on the middle and upper middle class taxpayers in California.


19 people like this
Posted by A PAPD Idea
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2019 at 6:12 pm

^^^^Permissiveness & unrealistic/idealistic rehabilitation measures often lead to even more crime.

A 'slap on the wrist' doesn't cut it...especially for repeat offenders.

And if they are 'repeat offenders', it just goes to show that rehab was pointless.

Some people are just born to be bad. It is in their genes & a less than ideal environment only serves to heighten these predispositions.

A second chance for a non-violent crime is OK in my book BUT an inherently violent crime and/or repeat offenses warrant serious incarceration even though it may run $80K per year. A good taxpayer investment.


Like this comment
Posted by City
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2019 at 7:01 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 25, 2019 at 6:12 am

The experience of enlightened societies is a proof that rehabilitation is safer for the society than treating prisoners harshly. Our prisons are killing and buggery zones and those who get released are almost always more dangerous to the society. Our prisons make them much worse. Our prisons are much closer to those of countries we generally would cringe to be compared to, and it's no wonder our society is so violent.


12 people like this
Posted by A Regular Occurrence Nowadays
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2019 at 7:59 am

"The experience of enlightened societies is a proof that rehabilitation is safer for the society than treating prisoners harshly."

Not everyone can be successfully rehabbed & those who cannot should remain in prison.


"those who get released are almost always more dangerous to the society."

Longer sentencing mandates would solve this problem. A 75-80 year-old released from prison is probably less of a threat to society than a 30 year-old.


"...it's no wonder our society is so violent."

^^^ Partly because many of these sociopaths haven't been caught yet.



6 people like this
Posted by Rainer
a resident of Mayfield
on Apr 25, 2019 at 8:45 am

Rainer is a registered user.

All this wise locking up should be evaluated withe $50,000 it costs per year to warehouse them in the colleges of crime (called prisons), plus a one-time cost of $50,000 to process them in court.

Plus mind you of the loss of productivity to society in view of the more than $100,000 which already were incurred to raise them to 18 by parents and schools.

You wonder if that is the reason countries like Norway or Germany or ... take you pick... slowly but surely7 are better educated and wealthier than the US, despite the fact that with natural resources (oil, arable land, metals, wind corridors, etc.) the us has so many advantages.


2 people like this
Posted by Mama Tried
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Prison have rehab programs in the various trades. The problem is that there is more money to be made by reverting back to one's original crimes.

My great-uncle got relegated to a southern chain gang in Mississippi for robbing a general store of $40. After he got out, roadwork during the Great Depression wasn't very lucrative. So he decided to rob some banks & got sentenced to 15 years due to being a repeat offender.

As the old Merle Haggard song goes...'Mama Tried' but in many instances crime pays better than a regular job.

I'd probably do the same except that I don't want to be violated while incarcerated. That is my primary reason...not the crime per se.


3 people like this
Posted by Another Option
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 25, 2019 at 3:21 pm

>> ...it has been documented that juvenile hall often does more harm by training how to do crime rather than rehabilitate.

Then let's go back to the 1950s when the judges often gave repeat juvenile delinquents a choice...go to jail or join the armed services.


1 person likes this
Posted by Puzzled
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2019 at 10:11 pm

Majority of comments after this sort of incidents point to public's desire for stronger policing and tougher punishment. Then how is it that when it comes to voting for their elected officials, the majority area population vote for people with strong sympathy for criminals? For instance, look at our city officials, our county officials, our representatives, our governor, etc.


5 people like this
Posted by Yeah Right
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 26, 2019 at 12:45 pm

>> Then how is it that when it comes to voting for their elected officials, the majority area population vote for people with strong sympathy for criminals? For instance, look at our city officials, our county officials, our representatives, our governor, etc.

Because people around here prefer to think of themselves as enlightened, evolved members of humanity.

But once their BMW gets broken into, they turn Charles Bronson.

It's because 99% of these people worship the material world despite their humanistic babbling.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

After experiencing harassment, owner of Zareen's restaurants speaks out about Islamophobia, racism
By Elena Kadvany | 28 comments | 6,307 views

Don't Miss Your Exit (and other lessons from an EV drive)
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 2,111 views

Goodbye Food Waste!
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 1,991 views

"Better" Dads and "Re-invigorated" Moms: Happier Couples
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,450 views

The kindness of strangers
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 621 views

 

Register today!

​On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More