When things get out of hand — from animals (of the live and artistic kind) taking over neighborhoods to an alleged burglar caught red-handed — headlines are born. We selected three stories of local happenings that took people by surprise in 2019.
WHO LET THE GOATS OUT? ... The motive behind a goat herd's great escape from a Los Altos home on April 4 is still up for debate, but on that night Palo Alto animal control officers were called to prevent the herd from wandering off. Dubbed Operation Green Goat, a 14-minute video posted online by Animal Control Officer William Warrior shows photos and clips of the goats, who had taken over an open field at the end of Dianne Drive east of Interstate Highway 280, some tugging away at leafy branches and grass. The Palo Alto officers helped Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies keep the herd from taking their adventure any farther by setting up a temporary barricade until the goats' owner arrived with herding dogs. At the sound of loud barks, the goats followed the noise in a loose but orderly fashion. "They were goats being goats and they all kind of followed each other back home," sheriff's spokesman Michael Low said. The goats belonged to Green Goat Landscapers and were in the neighborhood for a temporary job — helping a new homeowner on O'Keefe Lane clean up an overgrown lawn. The herd left the property through a portable electric gate that had been left open. Authorities were alerted to the great goat escape by an astonished resident who saw the herd as she jogged on Dianne Drive earlier that night.
SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT ... Commuters on University Avenue did a double take in May when they saw three 7-foot-tall crow sculptures outside — and on top of — of a home. The work, titled You-Me-We, is by Palo Alto-raised artist Sylvi Herrick, who brought the fiberglass-and-steel crows on a flat-bed truck from St. Augustine, Florida, to her mother's lawn and rooftop in the Crescent Park neighborhood. The crow sculptures, each weighing around 350 to 400 pounds, are more than just decorations. Herrick sees them as a launching point for discussions on migration, borders and connection, themes she's long been interested in exploring. "My mom is a refugee; my husband is an immigrant; and my grandmother was born in Mexico," she said. The name You-Me-We comes from her desire for her artwork to unite people. "The three crows all work together. We're all individuals but we're all connected," she said.
WHAT A STEAL ... Employees of the Coach store at Stanford Shopping Center are still baffled over how a woman was able to sneak into the shop and hide for about eight hours before allegedly burglarizing the luxury retailer out of nearly $4,000 worth of merchandise at 1:50 a.m. the next day. On what seemed like a normal afternoon on Dec. 8, the 35-year-old San Francisco woman entered the designer brand store through a restricted entrance. The store, which sells leather goods and accessories, sweatshirts and jackets that range between $200 and $700, closed at 6 p.m. She went undetected until around shortly before 2 a.m., when officers responded to the mall due to an activated motion-detector alarm, Palo Alto police Sgt. Alex Afanasiev said. They found her outside of the store allegedly carrying $3,948 of merchandise, including a backpack and three shopping bags filled with goods, prompting them to arrest her, Afanasiev said. They also found her with drug paraphernalia, a metal bar, a screwdriver and other miscellaneous tools, he said. "Management was surprised something like this happened," said a Coach manager who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We're still trying to figure out where the woman hid." The store's open layout does not offer many hiding spots. On a recent Thursday, more mall security personnel and Palo Alto police officers patrolled the area. To prevent situations like the Coach store burglary, Afanasiev suggested that retail employees inspect all sections of their stores, including bathrooms, before they leave for the day.