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Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 9, 2013

Palo Alto home burglaries spike again

Police warn residents to 'Lock It or Lose It'

by Sue Dremann

Six residential burglaries in six days have prompted Palo Alto police to warn residents to be vigilant and lock their windows and doors.

"We have had a spike," Detective Sgt. Brian Philip of the police property-crimes investigative unit said Monday.

The spate of break-ins began July 26, with the latest occurring Aug. 1. The burglaries were in north Palo Alto neighborhoods: on the 900 block of Elsinore Drive, 600 block of Palo Alto Avenue, 700 block of Alester Avenue, 1700 and 1900 blocks of Channing Avenue and 100 block of Walter Hays Drive. The burglars were believed to be on bicycles and scooters, he said.

Items taken in three burglaries included jewelry (including a wedding ring), MacBooks, an iPhone, an Apple notebook and a revolver, police spokesman Officer Sean Downey said. In two cases the possessions were worth $4,650 and $5,550, he said. The value of items stolen in two others burglaries were not immediately known, and nothing was taken in one incident, according to police logs.

Over the past several months, the department has fought a spate of auto burglaries with the help of law enforcement in other cities and the San Mateo and Santa Clara county gang task forces. Several burglary groups working vehicle and residential break-ins have been affiliated with street gangs, Philip said.

Police captured many of the criminals responsible for last year's spate of residential burglaries. Twenty-six burglaries occurred in August 2012 alone. They put pressure on convicted burglars who are on probation and parole. But gangs might now have new players, he said.

"It may be that they are passing on knowledge to other subjects," Philip said.

Fourteen residential burglaries occurred in July 2012 compared to the six this July, he said. But police don't want the thieves to get a foothold. March, August, October and November were last year's biggest burglary months, he said.

"We need to remind people to be very vigilant about your property," Philip said.

In most of the recent incidents, thieves gained entry through open windows and unlocked doors. One thief climbed up and entered through an open second-story window. In the Alester incident, the thief tried one back-yard window and then entered through a second one that was unlocked.

No arrests have been made.

The department will renew a special-enforcement detail, consisting of additional patrol and plain-clothes officers. Palo Alto will continue its collaboration with other police departments and with Santa Clara and San Mateo county gang task forces, he said.

The department is asking residents to review suggestions from its "Lock It or Lose It!" crime-prevention campaign. Information, including updated burglary maps, is available at

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at


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