Palo Alto police detectives are investigating an early Monday morning crime spree after burglars entered two homes, prowled a third property and stole a car from another.
In the first incident, two burglars forced entry into a garage at about 2:42 a.m. in the 700 block of Gailen Avenue near Louis Road and stole two bicycles, home-surveillance footage showed. The victims, a couple in their 30s, were asleep inside the home at the time and didn't know the theft had occurred until they woke up. A men’s black Gary Fisher Marlin mountain bike and a women’s black and teal Marin Kentfield CS1 bike were missing. The burglars didn't enter the residential portion of the home, police said in a press release on Thursday afternoon.
Home surveillance video showed a distinguishing mark or tattoo on the right side of the neck of one of the burglars.
During a neighborhood check related to the burglary, officers located a neighbor on the same block who reviewed their own home surveillance footage. It showed a male with a flashlight prowling in the yard after entering through an unlocked side gate at about 2:37 a.m. and no additional crime was committed at the property, according to police. The prowler appears to be the same person as the one wearing a face covering and hooded sweatshirt from the burglary, police said.
Police received another call at 9:39 a.m. regarding a stolen SUV from a property that is a tenth of a mile from Gailen Avenue. An unknown person stole a 2012 Audi Q7 SUV belonging to a man in his 30s. The theft occurred overnight at a home in the 3800 block of Corina Way where the SUV was parked on the street with its doors unlocked and the key had been accidentally left in the ignition, police said.
Home surveillance video from the man's home and from neighbors showed the theft occurred at 3:07 a.m. A light-colored sedan had arrived on the street, where a passenger exited and rummaged through the man’s unlocked car, then stole the vehicle. The sedan's driver also departed. The video is not of sufficient quality for the public to help identify the individuals or their sedan, police said.
Officers received another call at 10:23 a.m. regarding a second, overnight residential burglary in the 3700 block of Nathan Way. The location is about a third of a mile from Gailen Avenue, police said.
The investigation revealed that an unknown person or persons had come onto the property through an unlocked side-yard gate and entered the home of a couple in their 40s through an unlocked window. The burglar stole a resident's purse from the kitchen table. The burglar appears to have left without entering any other rooms, police said. The couple were asleep inside the home and discovered the crime after they realized the purse was missing, the side-yard gate was open and the window was ajar with a screen removed.
Someone attempted to use credit cards from the purse at a San Jose convenience store around 4:45 a.m. that morning, police said. Detectives are following up on those transactions.
Police recovered the stolen Audi Q7 in the 3800 block of Nathan Way while investigating the second home burglary. Investigators searched the vehicle for evidence and returned it to the owner, police said.
Detectives believe all three of the crimes were likely committed by the same two people, police said. There is no indication they intended any physical harm to the sleeping residents.
"Overnight residential burglaries are extremely rare in Palo Alto. Most residential burglars commit their crimes during the day, when homes are unoccupied and the chance of a confrontation with a resident are correspondingly reduced," the department said in the press release.
Palo Alto police recommend residents put locks on side yard gates to prevent easy unauthorized access to the property.
Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] 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.