Suspects escape after burglary in Palo Verde neighborhood

Police outside house for hours Monday night after suspected burglary

Palo Alto police surrounded a Palo Verde home for five hours after receiving a report of forced entry Monday night but officers were ultimately unable to find the suspects, who had apparently fled just before the police arrived.

The resident, a woman in her 30s, had returned to her home in the 800 block of Ames Avenue with her baby and an adult relative at about 6:26 p.m. when she saw that the back door had been forced open. All three went outside to call the police, at which time she heard a door inside her home slam shut.

Police arrived minutes later and used the woman's smart phone to access surveillance footage from inside her home. As they watched video footage of two suspects inside her bedroom, the video cut off, possibly as a result of one of the men inside turning off the power, according to police.

Other officers soon arrived at the scene, surrounded the home and repeatedly called out through a megaphone for the men to come out with their hands up. They also later brought in police dogs to search the lower level of the home.

At about 9:30 p.m., the department's Crisis Negotiation Team and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team arrived -- units that specialize in situations where suspects barricade themselves.

Police also used the AlertSCC notification system to notify residents in a one-block radius around the house to remain inside with their doors locked. Police said 93 homes in the area received the notifications.

Officers finally entered the home at about 11:28 p.m., but could not find the suspects. The SWAT team also searched nearby yards and hiding places before declaring the entire scene clear at about 11:45 p.m., according to a press release. All the residents who were notified to stay indoors received a notification that the situation was resolved.

Police later discovered that the footage they had seen on the smartphone had not been live, as they originally thought, but was recorded earlier in the evening. Officers determined that there was "a small window of time prior to police arrival during which the suspects escaped," according to a press release.

An investigation indicated that the suspects broke into the home between 5:45 p.m. and 6:25 p.m. by forcing open a rear door after getting into the backyard from an unlocked side gate. The suspects, described as two black men in their mid-20s wearing all black clothing, allegedly ransacked the home and stacked several "valuable items" near an exit door. As of late Monday night, officers had not yet determined what had been stolen.

Police said they are not ruling out the possibility that additional suspects were involved. Officers are reviewing footage to find video snippets or stills that are sufficiently clear to help identify the suspects.

Officers received assistance during the response from the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (which provided one canine unit) and the Stanford Department of Public Safety, which helped set up the perimeter.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the police department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff


Like this comment
Posted by Jes' Sayin'
a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 25, 2014 at 11:20 am

Where the heck is Palo Verde? People in Mountain View don't know that. Poorly contextualized story.

Like this comment
Posted by jane
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 25, 2014 at 2:34 pm

actually, because I know the Palo Verde neighborhood this immediately caught my eye. Living in Mountain View does not exclude knowledge of other neighborhoods, and news like this is important to share. Scary crime and more than the PAPD were involved in the incident.

Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on Mar 25, 2014 at 2:46 pm

@Jes' Sayin'

Just because *YOU* (or any other single individual) don't know the name of a particular neighborhood does not make it a detail that is worthless to report. The street block was mentioned in the subsequent paragraph, which is perfectly adequate in providing additional context.

Some people in Mountain View know where Palo Verde is, just like they might know where Professorville is, or the Mission District/Jackson Square/China Basin are in San Francisco.

And guess what? *Now* you know where the Palo Verde neighborhood is, you actually learned something because Embarcadero Media published something you didn't know. What do you expect from the media? For them to only publish topics with which you are perfectly familiar?

The media is not your mom cooking you your favorite breakfast.

Like this comment
Posted by Happy
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 25, 2014 at 3:19 pm

I'm just happy these people went back outside to call 911 instead of trying to confront them. Happy they are OK. Lots of time wasted, maybe they didn't know, but why didn't they tell the police that the video was not live? I know when I'm looking at a live video when monitoring my alarm/camera...

Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on Mar 25, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Who knows? Maybe the victims weren't too familiar with all of the nuances of the recording system. Maybe the system is poorly designed. Maybe the victims only had the system for a short while. Maybe they were just too caught up in the emotions of the crime to think rationally. Maybe the clock wasn't correctly set on the recording device.

While it's a shame that immediate apprehension did not occur in this case, the surveillance technology does provide evidence to help identify and prosecute the perpetrators. Without it, there would be no visual description of the suspects.

Let us hope this occurrence helps the police refine their procedures in dealing with a surveillance system that was set up by someone else.

Like this comment
Posted by Jes' Sayin'
a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 26, 2014 at 1:45 am

"Doesn't Get It" award to Jay Park.

The comment wasn't saying that they shouldn't include it.
The comment was saying that they shouldn't just take a story from the Palo Alto paper and slap it into the Mountain View paper and assume we're gonna make sense of these sloppy second without further explanation. But then, this is what happens when people try to put out a Mountain View newspaper when they aren't even located in our community.

Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on Mar 26, 2014 at 9:10 am

The first words in the article are "Palo Alto police"… It's pretty clear that this incident took place in Palo Alto.

Criminals typically do not confine their activities to just one municipality. If a burglary takes place in Palo Alto, it is newsworthy to residents on the Peninsula, not just to Palo Altans.

City newspapers do not only write articles about events or people that happen within city limits. People commute to and from cities. This is probably news to you: there are people from San Francisco who work in Mountain View. A city newspaper writes about topics relevant to residents, workers, etc.

Embarcadero Media did not post an article about a Palo Alto city ballot measure or something to do with their city council. A residential burglary in a nearby town is relevant.

It's worth noting that you are the only person griping about the way this article was written.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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