Rash of Crimes Put Peninsula Residents on Alert

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Bay Area's Stephanie Chuang examines a rash of crimes to hit cities in the Peninsula. (Published Friday, Jan 31, 2014)

    As he walked into his San Bruno home, Leonard Herzstein said he didn’t feel panicked – he was just confused. Why was the sofa on its side, he asked his friend. That’s when he was told he had been the victim of a home break-in.

    “Well thank goodness there was nobody here, therefore nobody was injured,” Herzstein said.

    The Navy World War II veteran said he’s heard neighbors talk about nearby burglaries, but this was his first time. Someone or people smashed a window to get inside his home on the 2900 block of Fleetwood Drive, stole roughly 1,500 dollars in cash and some collectibles, just after noon on Thursday.

    San Bruno Police Lt. Tim Mahon said Herzstein’s house was the latest in a string of burglaries in January alone. Typically, police see zero to two burglaries a month. Not this one.

    “We’ve had at least nine, maybe as many as eleven to twelve in the past month that we think are responsible by the same individuals or group of individuals,” Mahon said.

    Police have upped patrols in the neighborhoods especially those north of 280, adding two to three additional officers in both marked and unmarked vehicles. Mahon credits that move with the arrest of a 23-year-old San Francisco man, after a detective followed him into the city after he left a San Bruno house acting suspiciously.

    From a big spike in home burglaries in one peninsula city to the first ever armed home invasion robbery in another, it’s not just San Bruno experiencing an increase in crime.

    In Palo Alto, there’s been a spike in auto burglaries with at least 47 in January. There’s also growing concern there after the city’s first ever armed home invasion last week, when a husband and wife in their 80s were forced to the ground at gunpoint. And in Burlingame, police are warning of an apparent new scam with criminals posing as construction workers to try and get inside homes.

    Mahon said that’s why his department is stepping up communication with other agencies, especially those directly around San Bruno, including South San Francisco, Daly City, and Burlingame. He said vehicle descriptions for suspects in San Bruno have matched in other cities, and vice versa.

    “Our detectives have been meeting with detectives from other cities and trying to get a task force together,” said Mahon. “Mainly just to share information about what’s going on because other cities have vehicle descriptions, suspect descriptions.”

    He added they have been successful in getting critical leads from the collaboration.

    “Hopefully we’ll make some other arrests here shortly.”