The number of residential burglaries reported to the Palo Alto Police Department dropped back to average in September, following an increase in August.
During the period of time from September 1 to September 30, 2012, there were 14 reported residential burglaries in Palo Alto (see attached map). This is half the number of cases (28) reported in August.
Of the 14 cases in September, two of them were of homes under construction and one was a bicycle taken from an open garage. Two other cases were attempted burglaries only, where no suspect actually made entry to the homes.
Of the remaining nine cases, the burglars entered the unoccupied homes via force four times (twice with smashed windows, once with a pry tool, and once with a broken-in side door), and no force was used to enter the homes on five occasions (meaning the homes had open or unlocked doors or windows, or the point of entry could not be determined).
In the September cases, officers from the Palo Alto Police Department arrested a total of four suspects responsible for two of the cases. Thus far in 2012, officers have arrested a total of 25 suspects for residential burglary.
The frequency of residential burglaries, like many other types of crime, is cyclical in nature. Despite last month’s return to average numbers, we nonetheless encourage residents to remain vigilant, and to continue to report suspicious behavior immediately to 9-1-1. A partnership between alert residents and the police is one of the most effective ways to combat the burglary problem.
During the first nine months of 2012, there have been 160 residential burglaries reported. The numbers for the same time frame were lower in each of the prior four years (138 in 2008, 106 in 2009, 91 in 2010, and 108 in 2011; see attached spreadsheet for breakdown by month and year).
Residential burglaries spiked during the first three months of 2012, prompting us to launch our “Lock It or Lose It!” public campaign in March.
The campaign is designed to focus the public’s attention on how best to prevent burglaries, how to recognize suspicious behavior, and how best to report that suspicious behavior to the police.
Following the launch of the campaign, we increased staffing levels in the affected areas and the community did a great job of reporting suspicious activity. The combined efforts of the police, the residents, and the media had a dramatic result, with only seven residential burglaries in April.
The cases leveled off during the months of May, June, and July before rising again in August.
The main message behind the “Lock It or Lose It!” campaign is that if your property is left unlocked, it’s more likely to be stolen. Residents who take the time to always lock the doors and windows to their homes when they are out are less likely to be victimized.
Burglars want to get into homes as easily and as quickly as possible, so leaving doors or windows unlocked makes their job simple.
Residents are also encouraged to lock side yard gates. In many cases, burglars gain access to the rear yard after finding an unlocked gate. Once in the privacy of a back yard, they are free to break into the home unnoticed by passersby.
This is often done after they ring the doorbell, posing as a solicitor or supposedly looking for someone who does not live there, to see if anyone is home. Residents are encouraged to speak through their doors to ask who is calling, or otherwise acknowledge in some manner that someone is home.
The Palo Alto Police Department’s website has a section on crime prevention tips. 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, click here. 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 information about our current burglary trend can contact our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to email@example.com or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.