Palo Alto residents reported an alarming number of auto burglaries last month, prompting police to step up efforts in patrol, investigations and community outreach.
The Palo Alto Police Department in September received 61 reports of auto burglaries -- the highest total for a single month since 2008.
Furthermore, the first nine months of 2013 netted 260 auto burglaries in the city, which surpasses annual totals for the past three years (2012 had 239 auto burglaries; 2011 had 229; and 2010 had 241).
Police said there is no identifiable pattern to the crimes. Most of the auto burglaries occurred during the early-evening hours, but police said plenty have been reported during the day and overnight as well.
"It's a very quick crime," Sgt. Brian Philip said. "Sometimes they're crimes of opportunity. They're in. They're out. And they're gone. And we've got to be at the right place at the right time in order to catch them."
The burglaries have hit many neighborhoods around town (see map to the right), but the Oak Creek Apartments along San Hill Road has seen 16 cases reported to police. A city parking garage at 445 Bryant Street had nine incidents of auto burglaries, police said.
"What's different about this trend is that it's not just one particular area of town," Philip said. "It's not North Palo Alto. It's not South Palo Alto. It's everywhere in Palo Alto."
No auto burglary arrests were made in September, but detectives are investigating leads on several recent cases. Police also plan to increase night patrols. Officers also plan to do more comunity outreach for auto-burglary prevention tips.
Anyone with information on the Palo Alto auto burglaries is asked to call the police department's dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.