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


Subject :

Suspect Arrested After Resident Discovers Her in His Parked Car
Contact : Marianna Villaescusa, Agent, Police    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- A Palo Alto resident found a stranger rummaging through his car on Monday morning, and a timely call to the police led to the arrest of the suspect on a multitude of charges including attempted vehicle theft and possession of stolen property.

On Monday, October 1, 2012, at about 7:12 a.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a 9-1-1 call from a resident reporting that a woman he did not know was inside his parked vehicle, which was in the 500 block of Fulton Street.  Officers from the Palo Alto Police Department arrived within two minutes and detained the suspect.

The investigation revealed that the suspect had been rummaging through the contents of the vehicle.  Officers located property in her possession that belonged to three separate victims.  Two of those victims had had the property stolen from their parked cars within the past few weeks in San Jose and Santa Clara, but the third victim from San Jose did not know how the suspect had wound up with their property.  The property recovered included a credit card, a social security card, a gym membership card, and registration and insurance information from the vehicle of one of the victims.

Officers also located a car key in the ignition of the vehicle through which the suspect had been rummaging.  The suspect had brought that key with her, along with more than 50 other vehicle keys.  It is common for people who steal cars to carry an abundance of car keys with them in the hopes that they will facilitate entry and theft of other vehicles.  In this case, it appears as though the suspect used such a key to open the door of the locked vehicle.  Such keys used in these circumstances are considered burglary tools, the possession of which is a misdemeanor.

Police booked 30-year-old Abigail Lee, a Santa Clara resident, into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for possession of stolen property and attempted vehicle theft (both felonies), as well as possession of burglary tools and vehicle tampering (both misdemeanors).  A booking photo is attached.

There were no auto burglaries or thefts from autos reported to us in that area around the same time.  Detectives from the Palo Alto Police Department are continuing to investigate if the suspect may be tied to any additional crimes in Palo Alto.

The Palo Alto Police Department's website has a section on crime prevention tips at  There are pages on home security, recognizing suspicious behavior, being a good witness, and more.  Additionally, we encourage our residents to consider becoming involved in the Block Preparedness Coordinator program administered by the City’s Office of Emergency Services.  For more information about that program, visit  The next free training class, which teaches crime prevention and disaster preparedness, occurs on October 11, 2012.

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 more information about this case can contact 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.