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

10/30/2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE #10302012
Subject :

Two Bike Thieves Arrested With Burglary Tools
Contact :Ron Harris, Officer, Police    650-329-2413
Hernandez-EstradaHernandez-Ortega
Palo Alto, CA -- Police arrested two men on an array of charges after a patrol officer recognized them from surveillance video that had captured them stealing a bicycle from a residential neighborhood less than 24 hours earlier.

On Thursday, October 25, 2012, at about 10:30 a.m., an officer from the Palo Alto Police Department observed two men riding bicycles in the 3000 block of El Camino Real.  The officer recognized the men as matching the description of a pair of thieves who had committed a bicycle theft in Palo Alto that had occurred the prior afternoon in the 3000 block of Louis Road.  Officers stopped both men, saw that they showed signs of being under the influence of a controlled substance, and detained them for further investigation.

The investigation revealed that both men were in possession of burglary tools (including a punch tool that can be used to break windows, screwdrivers, a pry bar, metal cutters, and more).  Additionally, one of the men was in possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia (a pipe used to smoke methamphetamine), and a switchblade knife.

The investigation led officers to the Alviso home of one of the suspects, where they recovered the bicycle stolen the day before.  Officers were able to return the stolen bicycle to the appreciative victim.

Police have reason to believe that the bicycles being used by the suspects at the time of their arrests are also both stolen.  Police have not yet been able to locate the owners of the bicycles.  One is a white, 21-speed Citizen folding bicycle, and the other is an orange, one-speed Huffy beach cruiser.  Police are holding the two bicycles at the station for safekeeping until their ownership can be determined.  If anyone knows the owner of either bicycle, they should contact our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.

The two suspects are 24-year-old Erik Hernandez-Estrada and 25-year-old Juan Carlos Hernandez-Ortega, both of Alviso.  Police booked both men at the Santa Clara County Main Jail for being under the influence of a controlled substance, conspiracy, possession of stolen property, and possession of burglary tools (all misdemeanors).  Estrada's charges also included possession of methamphetamine (a felony), possession of drug paraphernalia (a misdemeanor), and possession of a switchblade knife (a misdemeanor).  Police recovered the stolen bicycle from Hernandez-Ortega’s home.  Booking photos of both suspects are attached to this news release.

The original bicycle theft occurred on Wednesday, October 24, 2012, in the 3000 block of Louis Road.  The victim’s bicycle, a Raleigh Talus valued at about $365, was locked to a stationary bicycle stand with a cable lock.  The suspects cut the lock and stole the bicycle around 3:00 p.m.  The victim reported the theft to police upon discovery of the crime about 45 minutes later.  The victim provided police with video surveillance footage of the two suspects, which was how the officer recognized the two suspects the following day.

While these two arrested suspects have not been connected to any of the recent residential burglaries in Palo Alto, police would like to remind residents to be aware of suspicious behavior by people on bicycles in our neighborhoods.  Such behavior could include people leaving bicycles on sidewalks or in driveways and then approaching multiple homes on foot to knock on front doors or to open side yard gates.  Potential burglars will often ring the doorbell, posing as a solicitor or supposedly looking for someone who does not live there, to see if anyone is home.  Residents are encouraged to speak through their doors to ask who is calling, or otherwise acknowledge in some manner that someone is home.

Police also encourage you to always close and lock doors and windows whenever you are out, and to lock side yard gates.  If meter readers need to access your utility meter behind a locked gate, you can call Palo Alto Utilities Customer Service at 650-329-2161 to discuss options.  The Palo Alto Police Department’s website has a section on crime prevention tips at www.cityofpaloalto.org/StopCrime.  There are pages on home security, recognizing suspicious behavior, being a good witness, and more.  We also encourage you to visit our social media connections page at www.cityofpaloalto.org/PAPDconnect for links to our accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Nixle, and rBlock.  We routinely publish news releases, traffic advisories, crime prevention tips, photos, and more.

Residents are encouraged 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.  Anyone having information about these arrests, or anyone who can identify the owners of the two suspected stolen bicycles, can contact 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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