Recent Overnight Burglaries of Occupied Homes: Tips to Keep Safe and Protect Your Home
Learn about ways to stay safe and report suspicious behavior in your neighborhoods
Over the last few weeks, there have been six burglaries or attempted burglaries at occupied homes during the overnight hours in Palo Alto. In response, the Palo Alto Police Department is increasing patrols in residential neighborhoods overnight, both in marked cars and unmarked cars. In this blog learn details about the recent crime trend, steps you can take right now to stay safe, and how best to report suspicious behavior to the Police Department.
LOCAL BURGLARIES CRIME TREND: UNUSUAL AND CONCERNING
Since October 12, 2020, there have been six burglaries or attempted burglaries at occupied homes during the overnight hours. These cases are extremely rare, so this is a very unusual and concerning crime trend. Fortunately, there have been no confrontations between suspects and residents, and there is no evidence that the suspects have entered occupied bedrooms. In response, the Palo Alto Police Department (PAPD) has increased patrols in residential neighborhoods overnight, both in marked cars and unmarked cars, and detectives are trying to piece together evidence that could lead us to the suspect or suspects. At this point, the suspect or suspects are unknown.
The Police Department distributed news releases about each incident to the community to inform. PAPD is seeking any details neighbors may have about these incidents. For the specific news releases, see the dates and links below.
October 15 (Gailen Avenue and Nathan Way)
October 23 (Hamilton Avenue)
October 26 (Fulton Street)
October 27 (Channing Avenue and South Court)
In the first two cases, surveillance cameras captured images of the two suspects (See visuals above: Note the unique mark or tattoo on the right side of the neck of the second suspect). There are no images of any suspect(s) from any of the other cases. Detectives have not been able to connect these two suspects to the subsequent four cases. It is possible they are associated with a light-colored sedan.
With these recent notable exceptions, 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. Daytime residential burglaries of unoccupied homes are, unfortunately, relatively common in all cities in the San Francisco Bay Area (including here in Palo Alto).
Until PAPD apprehends the suspect, they will not know the motivation behind committing these crimes, which is why it is important to report suspicious activity and take precautions now to stay safe and lock up your home at night and when you are not home.
TIPS TO STAY SAFE
In the six cases reported so far, the most common way the burglar has entered the home is by removing a window screen and opening a window (by either prying it open, or by sliding it open if left unlocked). In one case, no force was used to enter the home and police believe it is possible that the suspect located a house key hidden outside the residence and used that key to gain entry. Another commonality between the cases was unlocked side yard gates; the burglar often was able to easily enter side yards and rear yards to search for their point of entry while unseen by any passersby on the street.
Regardless of how a burglar may attempt to enter a home, the following tips will help keep you safe and lessen the likelihood that you will become a victim:
- Lock side yard gates.
- Install motion-sensor lighting on all sides of your home’s exterior, or, leave your outside lights on overnight.
- Equip your home with surveillance cameras.
- Keep doors and windows locked overnight.
- Use window security bars to prevent windows from opening fully.
- Do not hide a spare house key outside your home; leave the key with a trusted neighbor instead.
- Install and use an alarm system.
- Install signs and/or stickers on the outside of your home indicating that it is protected by an alarm and/or security cameras.
- If you’ve been thinking about becoming a pet owner, dogs are great deterrents for home burglars. A barking dog in the middle of the night will wake up the neighborhood and generate witnesses that the burglar will want to avoid.
For many more crime prevention tips, visit our website at www.cityofpaloalto.org/StopCrime.
PAPD URGING COMMUNITY TO REPORT SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR
While PAPD has stepped up both marked and unmarked police patrols in our neighborhoods overnight, the Police Department still depends on the eyes and ears of everyone in the community to help keep us all as safe as possible. PAPD is asking for the community’s help in promptly reporting suspicious activity. In an emergency, dial 9–1–1. In all other cases, call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650–329–2413. The same public safety dispatchers answer both lines and will send help.
The City has heard from community members that they are not sure when to call the police. A call to police does not equate to getting someone in trouble; rather, it just gives the Police Department the opportunity to investigate the suspicious activity in real-time to determine if that activity is innocent or criminal. Always err on the side of caution, as your call may prevent someone in the community from being victimized.
UPDATE: PUBLIC SAFETY COMMUNITY MEETING — CRIME TRENDS & PUBLIC SAFETY TIPS
Join us for a community meeting as we share information about recent crime trends, home and car safety tips, ways to avoid fraud scams and identity theft and other approaches to keep you and your neighborhood safe. Submit your safety questions in advance and hear from Office of Emergency Services and Palo Alto Police Department leadership on these community issues.
Submit your safety questions in advance and hear from Office of Emergency Services and Palo Alto Police Department leadership, as well as members of the detective bureau, on these community issues. Chief Ken Dueker will moderate this panel discussion.
Have a question you’d like answered by the public safety team at the meeting? Send questions in advance by Nov 16 at noon to Amanda Bates at Amanda.Bates@cityofpaloalto.org
Community Meeting Details
Tuesday, November 17, 7 p.m.
Virtual Meeting Zoom Link: https://cityofpaloalto.zoom.us/j/95074959876
MORE ONLINE RESOURCES
To submit an anonymous tip, go here.
For additional safety tips and other safety recommendations, go here.
To sign up for the Palo Alto Police Department’s Nixle emergency alerts and community updates, go here.
To sign up for the City’s emergency alert system, go here.
For more on the Palo Alto Police Department go here.
For the Palo Alto Police Department’s recent community briefings online, go here.