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


Subject :

Auto Burglaries on the Rise in Palo Alto
Contact : Brian Philip, Detective Sergeant, Police Department    650-329-2413
Map of Sept 2013 Auto Burglaries
Palo Alto, CA -- There were 61 auto burglaries reported to the Palo Alto Police Department in September, the highest total for a single month since at least 2008.  Police are urging the public to take precautions to protect their property, and are implementing a multi-faceted response involving proactive patrol, comprehensive investigations, and community outreach in an effort to stop the crimes and arrest those responsible for them.

Throughout the first nine months of 2013, there have been 260 auto burglaries.  This number surpasses the annual totals for the past three years (2012 had 239 total; 2011 had 229 total; 2010 had 241 total; 2009 had 388 total).

There is no identifiable pattern to the September auto burglaries.  While the majority of the crimes have occurred during the early evening hours, plenty have occurred during the day and overnight as well.  They are not concentrated in any particular geographic location of town (see attached map). They are occurring both on weekdays and on weekends, both in quiet neighborhoods and in commercial areas, and both on the street and in parking garages.  Sixteen cases have occurred at the Oak Creek Apartments along Sand Hill Road (on two separate nights), and City parking garage "S" at 445 Bryant Street has had nine cases (on three separate days/nights).

An auto burglary is defined as a crime where a suspect breaks into a locked car with the intent to steal property from inside.  Commonly stolen items include laptops, personal electronic devices, and miscellaneous personal belongings like backpacks, purses, and luggage.  An auto burglary, which takes place in only a matter of a few seconds, typically involves a smashed window or a door lock that is defeated by a punch tool.  In some cases (particularly involving rental cars), crooks are smashing windows and using the trunk release to obtain property stored in the trunk.

We recommend that you take your valuables with you whenever possible, or at the very least, secure them out of sight prior to arriving at your destination.  Leaving valuables in plain view is a sure way to attract the attention of a burglar.  Also, be sure to always lock your vehicle and close the windows when it is unattended.  Properly secured cars will absolutely have a deterrent effect on some criminals.  For more crime prevention tips, please visit our website at  

Thus far in 2013, officers and detectives from the Palo Alto Police Department have arrested five individuals for auto burglary.  None of those arrests occurred in September.  Detectives are actively investigating leads on several recent cases, and are working with their counterparts from law enforcement agencies up and down the Peninsula as this is a regional crime problem.

Our response to this crime trend is multi-faceted.  In addition to increasing patrols during the evening hours, our detectives will also be working on the street in plainclothes and in unmarked vehicles.  Our Special Enforcement Detail officers are working on burglary suppression exclusively in the downtown parking garages.  Officers are currently doing community outreach by contacting every car rental agency and hotel in town to encourage them to pass auto burglary prevention tips along to their customers.  We will also be using our social media channels to highlight the trend and identify crime prevention tips.

We encourage people 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.  For example, people loitering in parking lots and peering into cars or trying door handles is absolutely suspicious behavior, and merits a 9-1-1 call right away.

Anyone with information about these auto burglaries 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.