News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 0122201402
Subject :

Stolen iPad Leads Police to Arrests in Commercial Burglary Case
Contact : Zach Perron, Lieutenant, Police    650-329-2413
Booking Photos of Starr (left) and Elliott (right)
Palo Alto, CA -- Two suspects who had burglarized a business overnight and stolen thousands of dollars of electronics were arrested by police, who were led directly to them by GPS tracking software installed on one of the stolen devices.

On Wednesday, January 8, 2014, at about 9:48 a.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a call from personnel at the AT&T Foundry at 260 Homer Avenue reporting that a commercial burglary had occurred overnight while the business was closed.  Patrol officers responded and were able to determine that an unknown suspect or suspects had forced entry to the business by using a pry tool on one of the doors.  Personnel at the business reported that 15 cell phones, three laptop computers, an iPad, and other electronic items had been stolen, with a total approximate value of $14,000.

While officers were still on scene, a company employee used the "Find My iPhone" app and was able to see that the stolen iPad had last been located in City Parking Lot “C-6” at the corner of Sherman Avenue at Birch Street.  A patrol officer went to the parking lot and began walking between cars on the off chance they could see any of the stolen property in plain view inside any parked vehicles.  The officer saw a parked vehicle with a man seated in the passenger seat, and noticed that there were a large amount of items on the rear floorboard of the vehicle that were covered with a jacket.  The officer ran a registration check on the vehicle's license plate, and learned that it had suspended registration.

The officer watched the car from a distance.  A woman returned to the vehicle, and after several minutes passed, the pair drove out of the parking lot.  The officer made a car stop for the registration violation shortly after 11:00 a.m., and during the ensuing investigation, officers located all of the stolen property except for a single cell phone inside the vehicle.  They also found a crowbar and other pry tools.  Officers arrested both suspects.

Detectives were able to determine that the vehicle, a 2001 Dodge Durango, had been stolen from a car dealership in Vallejo at some point since November 2013.  The dealership had not noticed that the vehicle was missing until contacted by detectives.

Police booked Vallejo resident Tania Marin Starr and San Francisco resident Gerald Wayne Elliott II, both 31 years of age, into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for felony commercial burglary, felony vehicle theft, and misdemeanor possession of burglary tools.  Booking photos of both suspects are attached to this release.

Detectives are currently investigating whether either suspect is connected to any additional burglaries in Palo Alto or surrounding communities.

Police credit the “Find My iPhone” application in leading them to the suspects in this case.  We encourage people to enable such security features in their portable electronic devices whenever possible, and to familiarize themselves with how to use them.  If your portable electronic device is stolen or lost and you are using a remote application to track its location, notify your local law enforcement agency immediately and do not take independent action to attempt to recover your property.

Theft of portable electronic devices is, unfortunately, a very common crime.  For more information about mobile electronic device theft and steps you can take to safeguard your property and information, watch “The Epidemic of iCrime,” a 5-minute video produced by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in 2013.  It can be found at

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 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.