Residents of the quiet town of Los Altos are worried after five different armed robberies have taken place in the last five weeks. Surveillance cameras caught two different masked gunmen robbing the teller and walking out of the Bank of the West, while robbers also held up a Comerica Bank and a liquor store. George Kiriyama reports.
The words "frightening" and "Los Altos" are rarely mentioned together. But after a recent armed robbery spree, those who live in this sleepy town of almost 30,000 are wondering what's going on.
"All the more unbelievable with Los Altos," Charlie Krackeler, a Los Altos native, said as he walked around downtown Tuesday night. "I guess it could happen anywhere but I'm really surprised to hear about armed robberies in Los Altos. It's something you never really hear about."
In the past five weeks, thieves have hit Los Altos five times. The Bank of the West was robbed twice on Feb. 11 and March 1. Surveillance cameras caught two different masked gunmen robbing the teller and walking out the bank. Robbers also held up a Comerica Bank on March 6 and the Standard Liquors store on Feb. 2. The robbers in all of these cases have not been arrested.
"That's big news here," Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis said. "Our residents are concerned. Have a right to be concerned. I'm absolutely concerned. Our police department is working to address the concerns of the public and trying to apprehend the suspects."
Younis says his city has already equaled the total number of armed robberies in 2012. And it's only March.
"When you match the same number in three months into the calendar year that you had all of last year, absolutely it's a concern," Younis said.
Younis also points out violent crime appears to be on the rise throughout California. He points to prison realignment as a possible reason. Younis believes cities like Los Altos and Palo Alto are targets for criminals because of their affluence.
"It is absolutely shocking. It's frightening actually," Judy Simes, a 30-year Los Altos resident, said.
She's concerned it could get worse.
"It could move from robbing banks to home invasion to accosting someone walking along with two dogs, who knows?" Simes said.
And the irony - just last week, Los Altos was ranked the 23rd safest city in the country by Location Incorporated for cities with more than 25,000 people.