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


Subject :

Housekeeper Scares Off Residential Burglars
Contact : Brian Philip, Detective Sergeant, Police Department    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- An alert housekeeper scared off two burglars who were just about to break into the home she was cleaning.  The suspects fled on foot and remain at large.

On Wednesday, January 7, 2015, at about 9:51 a.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a call of an interrupted residential burglary in the 1900 block of Tasso Street.  The reporting party advised that two suspects had fled from the backyard on foot.  Officers responded immediately but were not able to locate the suspects.

The investigation revealed that the reporting party, a housekeeper in her fifties, had been inside cleaning the residence with her adult daughter.  A resident, an adult in her late teens, was also home.  They reported hearing the doorbell ring twice, but no one answered the door.  A short time later, the housekeeper spotted two men in the backyard of the residence, trying to force open the rear door to gain access to the home.  The housekeeper yelled out at them, and they promptly fled on foot.

The housekeeper got a good look at one of the suspects, whom she described as a white or Hispanic male in his late teens, about 5 feet 10 inches tall with a thin build.  She said he was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, and had short black hair.  The housekeeper met with a police sketch artist on January 8, who produced the attached sketch of this first suspect.  The housekeeper could only describe the second suspect as a white or Hispanic male in his late teens who was wearing a blue sweatshirt.  There was no vehicle associated with the suspects that was seen or heard.

This case highlights a common operating style of residential burglars.  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.  In many cases, and as was the case here on Tasso Street, burglars then gain access to the rear yard after finding an unlocked side yard gate.  Once in the privacy of a backyard, they are free to break into the home unnoticed by passersby.  We encourage residents to speak through their doors to ask who is calling, or otherwise acknowledge in some manner that someone is home.

Police 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.  For a full list of crime prevention tips, including several on how to deal with strangers at your door, please visit

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.  Tips can also be submitted anonymously through our free mobile app, downloadable at or