Police Arrest Early-Morning Residential Burglar

Published on November 13, 2020

Palo Alto, CA Police arrested a man on Wednesday morning for two residential burglaries in the College Terrace neighborhood.  One suspect remains at large.  Detectives are conducting follow-up investigation to determine if the arrestee or his associate are connected to a series of occupied residential burglaries that occurred in October.

On Tuesday, November 10, 2020, at about 7:54 a.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a call of a residential burglary that had occurred overnight at a home in the 2300 block of Cornell Street.  The investigation revealed that the victim, a woman in her thirties, had discovered two bicycles missing from her garage when she woke up.  She reviewed footage from her home surveillance cameras and saw that it had captured two male suspects attempting to pry open her garage door at 4:07 a.m.  When they were unsuccessful, they pried open a side door leading into the garage and stole the two bicycles.  The victim had been asleep at the time of the crime.  The suspects did not enter the living area of the residence.

Officers checked nearby homes to locate any additional video surveillance footage of the suspects and found a neighbor’s camera had captured them arriving and leaving in a white pick-up truck.  Officers located two bicycles abandoned on the sidewalk a few houses away; one of the bicycles belonged to the burglary victim, and the other bicycle was later determined to have been stolen from the Stanford University campus earlier in the day.

On Tuesday, November 10, 2020, at about 8:10 a.m., officers responded to a residence in the 2000 block of Amherst Street on a report of a vehicle that had been stolen overnight between midnight and 6:40 a.m. by an unknown suspect.  The vehicle was a white 2010 GMC Sierra C1500 truck, and officers determined it matched the one seen on surveillance video being driven by the burglary suspects.

On Wednesday, November 11, 2020, at about 6:29 a.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a call of a suspicious circumstance that had just occurred at a residence in the 2300 block of Cornell Street (just down the street from the home burglarized the morning before).  The resident, a woman in her fifties, reported that the burglar alarm on the rear home on her property had been sounding, and she had seen a man in her backyard who had then fled.  Officers responded immediately and saw that the door to the rear house was open.  The rear house was under construction at the time and not occupied, but it contained three bicycles and miscellaneous property.  Nothing was missing, as police believe the alarm caused the suspect to flee once he opened the door.

While checking the area for the suspect, an officer located the stolen GMC Sierra parked and unoccupied nearby in the 1300 block of California Avenue.  The hood was warm, indicating it had been recently driven.  Officers processed the truck for evidence and then returned it to its owners.

Officers checked nearby homes to locate any additional video surveillance footage of the suspect and found a neighbor’s camera had captured the man leaving the area on a bicycle.  At about 7:20 a.m., officers located the suspect sitting on a bus bench next to a bicycle in the 3000 block of Hansen Way, and detained him without incident.  He matched the description of one of the suspects from the burglary on Tuesday morning as well.

The investigation revealed that the suspect, 31-year-old Gustavo Gomez Alvarado of San Jose, was on active probation out of Santa Clara County for vehicle theft and narcotics possession.  Officers located methamphetamine, narcotics paraphernalia, and burglary tools in his possession.  Police also later determined that the bicycle he had been riding at the time of his arrest had been stolen from the Stanford University campus earlier in the day.  Police returned the bicycle to its owner.

Police booked the suspect into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for two counts of residential burglary (a felony), possession of stolen property (a felony, for the bicycle he was riding), probation violation (a felony), and three misdemeanors (possession of methamphetamine, narcotics paraphernalia, and burglary tools).  A booking photo of the suspect is attached to this release.

Detectives are continuing to investigate these cases, including making efforts to identify the second suspect (see attached image from the Tuesday morning burglary) and to see if any evidence connects either suspect to the stolen vehicle case or other burglaries or bicycle thefts.  Additionally, detectives are conducting follow-up investigation to determine if Alvarado and/or his associate are connected to a series of occupied residential burglaries that occurred in October.  For details on those crimes, as well as a list of crime prevention tips to fortify your home against burglars, see our blog post "Recent Overnight Burglaries of Occupied Homes: Tips to Keep Safe and Protect Your Home."

Anyone with information about these incidents 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.  Tips can also be submitted anonymously through our free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.

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