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


PRESS RELEASE 1113201202
Subject :

Suspect Arrested After House Cleaner Interrupts Residential Burglary
Contact : Marco Estrada, Officer, Police    650-329-2413

Palo Alto, CA -- A Palo Alto resident received a call from his house cleaner after she found a stranger rummaging through the house.  The victim came home immediately and found the suspect trying to steal his vehicle.  A timely call to the police led to the arrest of the suspect on several charges including residential burglary and attempted vehicle theft.    

On Monday, November 12, 2012, at about 1:42 p.m., officers from the Palo Alto Police Department responded to the 1800 block of Channing Avenue on a report of an interrupted residential burglary.  The victim, a man in his forties, had received a telephone call from his house cleaner.  The house cleaner informed him that when she arrived at his home, she had found a man rummaging through the house.  The victim, who was nearby, returned quickly and discovered the suspect in the front seat of his vehicle, which was parked in the driveway.  The suspect was trying to start the victim's vehicle.  The victim called the police for assistance.  Officers from the Palo Alto Police Department arrived within one minute.  The suspect was still inside the victim's vehicle when they arrived.  The suspect refused to exit the vehicle or comply with instructions by the officers.  Once a canine unit from the Palo Alto Police Department arrived, the suspect complied and officers detained the suspect for investigation.  No one was injured.

The ensuing investigation revealed that the suspect had also burglarized the victim's home two days prior.  That burglary was not initially reported because the victim was unaware that it had occurred.  Police were able to recover the property stolen in both burglaries and return it to the victim.  The stolen property included jewelry and keys.  In both cases, the suspect entered the house using a hide-a-key that the victim had placed outside.

Police booked 20-year-old Axel Morales, a Palo Alto resident, into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for two counts of residential burglary (a felony), attempted vehicle theft (a felony), and tampering with a vehicle and resisting arrest (both misdemeanors).  A booking photograph is attached to this news release.  Detectives from the Palo Alto Police Department are continuing to investigate if this suspect is connected to any of the other recent residential burglaries in Palo Alto.

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.  With regards to hide-a-keys, burglars often will search common hiding spots in an effort to locate them.  Residents should consider leaving a spare key with a trusted neighbor in the event they accidentally get locked out of their home.  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 November 15, 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 information about the recent residential burglaries, or this case in particular, 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.