NEWS RELEASEThe City of Palo Alto
Public Information Office
650-329-2607
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301

9/7/2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE #09072012
Subject :

Auto Burglars Strike Palo Alto Parking Lots and Parking Garages
Contact :Marianna Villaescusa, Agent, Police    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- Officers from the Palo Alto Police Department have taken 17 auto burglary reports in the past two days.  In all 17 vehicles, the windows were smashed and the suspects stole computer bags, laptops, electronic equipment and personal documents.

On Wednesday, September 5, 2012, there were a total of 11 reported auto burglaries.  The suspects targeted vehicles clustered in the same location within a downtown parking lot or the Stanford Shopping Center parking lot.

At the Stanford Shopping Center, the suspects burglarized six vehicles within a ten minute time frame, from 8:00 – 8:10 p.m.  All six vehicles were locked and parked in the same general area on the west side, along El Camino Real. In all of these cases, the suspect smashed a window, reached inside, and pulled the trunk release lever.  The suspect then stole laptop bags containing computers and other personal items that were in the trunk.

At approximately 8:42 p.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a report of an auto burglary in City Parking Garage "R" at 528 High Street.  Officers from the Palo Alto Police Department responded and discovered a total of four vehicles had been burglarized.  The suspect smashed a window out in each vehicle and reached inside to retrieve laptop bags and brief cases containing computers, electronic items, and other personal documents. Items were taken from the interior compartment in three of the four burglaries.  The suspect pulled the trunk release lever on the fourth vehicle and stole items from there.

At 9:17 p.m., one final victim reported an auto burglary in City Parking Lot “H” at 571 Cowper Street.  Again, the suspect smashed a window and reached inside the main cabin to retrieve two laptop bags containing computers and personal items. 

On Thursday, September 6, 2012, there were a total of six reported auto burglaries reported from three separate downtown parking garages.

Between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. two auto burglaries occurred in City Parking Garage “R” at 528 High Street.  The suspect smashed a window in both cases.  In one case, the suspect stole a backpack containing personal items that was in plain view.  The suspect pulled the trunk release in the second vehicle and stole a laptop from the trunk.

Between the hours of 7:00 and 9:30 p.m., two auto burglaries occurred in City Parking Garage “S” at 445 Bryant Street.  The suspect smashed a window in each of the two vehicles and removed laptop bags that were in plain view. 

The last two reported auto burglaries occurred between 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. in City Parking Garage “J” at 520 Webster Street.  Again, the suspect smashed a window out in each vehicle and removed a laptop bag and backpack that were in plain view. 

Although a handful of the victim vehicles were rental cars, it does not appear that the suspect targeted any particular make or model.  It appears as though the suspects could be targeting rental vehicles, perhaps with the thinking that business travelers often travel with personal electronic devices.

We recommend that you take your valuables with you whenever possible, or at the very least, secure them out of sight prior to arriving at your destination.  Leaving valuables in plain view is a sure way to attract the attention of a burglar.  Also, be sure to always lock your vehicle and close the windows when it is unattended.  While that advice would not have helped the victims in these cases, having a locked vehicle will absolutely have a deterrent effect on some criminals.  For more crime prevention tips, please visit our website at www.cityofpaloalto.org/StopCrime.  

Officers and detectives from the Palo Alto Police Department are actively working this crime trend.  Uniformed officers are increasing their patrols, and plainclothes detectives are also out looking for the suspects.

In a few of the cases, witnesses observed possible suspects.  However, the possible suspect descriptions are so varied that the Palo Alto Police Department is not releasing any information about them at this time, and instead would like to ask people to focus on observing suspicious behavior, as opposed to looking for a particular description of person.  Detectives believe that the 17 cases are likely related, and were committed by the same suspect or group of suspects.

We encourage people to call 9-1-1 to report suspicious behavior, and allow the police to investigate if that behavior is innocent or criminal. It is always better to call and let the police do their job, rather than rationalize suspicious behavior and not call.  For example, people loitering in parking lots and peering into cars or trying door handles is absolutely suspicious behavior, and merits a 9-1-1 call right away.  Anyone with information about these auto burglaries is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.  Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.


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