Police are considering a suspect who is either transient or mentally ill in connection with a string of overnight auto burglaries of insignificant items stolen recently from vehicles in downtown Menlo Park.
In every one of the 17 burglaries reported on Sunday, Feb. 18, the locked vehicles were parked in an area roughly east of the Caltrain tracks and north of Ravenswood Avenue, and the burglar smashed a window and stole something of little value, according to Dave Bertini, interim chief of the Menlo Park Police Department.
Among the items stolen, each from one vehicle: a registration card, a pillow, an AAA membership card, and a pair of socks, the chief said. "We're not quite sure what the motive of this person was," he said.
The burglar seemed also to be of a mind to distribute the break-ins without favoritism, hitting four vehicles on Pine Street, three each on Laurel Street, Noel Drive and Ravenswood Avenue, and two each on Mills Street and Oak Grove Avenue, according to police records.
The record for Feb. 18 also shows one auto burglary on Glenwood Avenue and two thefts: on Burgess Drive and one of the Pine Street incidents. Thefts differ from burglaries in that the vehicle is unlocked, making a break-in unnecessary.
Police are investigating, including looking into whether any of the residences in the affected area had surveillance cameras that may have captured the burglar in action, the chief said.
All the reports came in on Sunday morning, with no one contacting police overnight when the crimes were committed, the chief said.
No one making a report said anything about a car alarm sounding, he added. "That's one of the things that's kind of puzzling to me, ... nobody heard anything," he said.
Asked whether there are tools that allow a burglar to break a window quietly, the chief had no comment.
Police advise residents to not leave items of value in sight within a vehicle, to lock vehicles, and to set the alarm if there is one.