Multiple burglaries, car stolen in Atherton in less than a day


In fewer than 24 hours – between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning – someone stole a car, bicycles and broke into two homes in Atherton.

These are the latest incidents in what the Atherton Police Department is calling a rash of crime. Police will hold a community meeting on Thursday (Jan. 31) to address residents’ concerns about crime in town.

The following are the incidents that took place earlier this week:

• Between 4:45 p.m. on Monday and 9:21 a.m. on Tuesday, burglars entered a house on the 100 block of Almendral Avenue through an unlocked garage door, according to a police department press release. They rummaged through and stole items from two unlocked cars.

• Between 10 p.m. on Monday and 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, burglars entered another home on the 100 block of Almendral Avenue through an unlocked side door, according to the press release. They rummaged through a purse on a counter.

• Between 11 p.m. on Monday and 8 a.m. on Tuesday, someone rummaged through two unlocked cars in the driveway of a home on the unit block of Almendral Avenue, according to the press release. They also stole two bicycles. The police later recovered the bikes.

• Between 11 p.m. on Monday and 8:23 a.m. on Tuesday, someone stole an unlocked vehicle parked in the driveway on the unit block of Almendral Avenue, according to the press release.

Police did not say if these most recent incidents are related.

Police department data shows a dramatic increase in home burglaries in town year-to-year: There were seven home burglaries in 2017 compared with 26 in 2018.

Things began fairly quietly in 2018, but the last two months saw a spike in the number of home burglaries. In November, five incidents were reported. And in December, seven incidents were reported – the same number of home burglaries reported in all of 2017.

Even before January has ended, the number of home burglaries (four) is higher than any other month of 2017 and 2018, except for November and December 2018.

Atherton police had hoped that the rash of burglaries that began in November had slowed down. Before the burglaries started up again on Jan. 25, the latest incident had been on Jan. 3, police said.

In the Jan. 25 incident, burglars forced their way into a home on the 100 block of Tuscaloosa Avenue by smashing a second-story balcony window, surveillance footage showed. There were at least three burglars involved and about $5,000 worth of jewelry was stolen, according to a police press release.

In another incident, burglars stole $10,000 worth of purses after forcing their way into a home on James Avenue by breaking a rear window between Jan. 25 and Jan. 28, according to a police press release.

Police have not made any arrests related to the recent burglaries, Atherton Police Commander Joe Wade said last week.

There were a number of burglaries in town in November and December. Among the incidents, someone stole $14,000 worth of electronics from Encinal Elementary School during the first weekend of December, and in another incident, someone stole roughly $225,000 worth of jewelry from a home.

The police community meeting takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31, in the Jennings Pavilion in Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave. in Atherton.


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8 people like this
Posted by data on home crime, please
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 30, 2019 at 12:32 pm

What's the data for the month, and compared to 'normal' levels, historically?

If the Atherton Police Department is calling a 'rash of crime', there must be numbers for reasonable comparison, no?

[Editor's note: We are working to obtain that data, and will report it soon.]

9 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 30, 2019 at 3:57 pm

Too bad, maybe time to re evaluate your public safety agencies. I bet the Sheriffs office can do a better job. With their over 700 employees, they can saturate Atherton until they catch those bad guys.

Time to leave the fire district alone. They can’t help you, unless you want their tax money....

Wait.....Oh yes you do!

4 people like this
Posted by Make Atherton a Gated Community
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 30, 2019 at 5:03 pm

They have gated communities all over the US, why not Atherton, the most expensive zipcode in California? It's up there on some of the stupidest things the Town of Atherton has done.

10 people like this
Posted by Safety First
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jan 30, 2019 at 10:25 pm

Thank you Props 47, 57 and 109. More really dumb stuff proposed by our PC politicians (and voters accept it)! Insanity is trusting crooks to obey laws!

3 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jan 31, 2019 at 6:42 am

Yep, walls work!!

13 people like this
Posted by Bay Area Native
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 31, 2019 at 9:34 am

Once again Atherton believes they are unique--this is happening all over the Bay Area, and has been since I don't know...forever? Plus Atherton is a gated community--there are locked gates all over the place. Did you guys read the article? Most of the burgleries were thru and OPEN DOOR. Plus I resent the implication that immigrants are to blame. Immigrants are some of the hardest working people I know. Plus, if you ban immigrant, then who is going to cut your grass, mow your lawn, work on that addition you have always wanted? It take a lot of workers to keep up those Atherton houses.

8 people like this
Posted by Hahaha
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jan 31, 2019 at 10:04 am

Never let facts stand in the way of a terrified citizenry.
Good lord, you people. LOL!

4 people like this
Posted by AthertonResident
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 31, 2019 at 3:34 pm

Atherton is not a gated community. There is one section of the city named Lindenwood which is surrounded by a wall, but not gated and without security personnel. And Lindenwood is probably less than 25% of the city's area.

Most of Atherton is not walled off and it's not feasible to build a wall around the entire city since the wall would need to be 10 miles in perimeter. Some comments have suggested its easy to just put up a wall and the problems go away. Again, it's not that sImple.

I agree that common sense things like locking doors is a good idea.

4 people like this
Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 31, 2019 at 3:53 pm

How about the common sense of the police department that is taking most of the town's budget actually getting out and preventing these crimes by being present on the streets? Why are we paying through the nose for this police department when they seemingly are not being effective in their role?

11 people like this
Posted by CA love
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 1, 2019 at 10:12 am

I am not a fan of Atherton Police Department. It is a small town police department. In my interactions with APD through the dozen or so years, I felt like I'm a character playing as citizen in the The Andy Griffith Show where Barney Fife was a deputy in the small town Mayberry. For example you can pull up any Atherton City Council or Transportation committee meeting on Youtube and can see the Chief of Police is mostly sitting there, very little to do or report, on his phone most of the time. You sometimes see reports on Almanac of hit and runs, break-ins, vandalism, etc in Atherton but you never hear of an apprehension or suspect in custody. Only rarely.

I admit this is harsh, but APD, in my opinion, functions as a "country club security" with all the benefits of being a sworn officer without the risks or demands of the real job but with all the expensive costs.

I am in support of San Mateo County Sherriff's office providing me law enforcement in Atherton. Having our own small town Police Department is like buying toilet paper at the corner store. I don't do that, I go to Costco. Maybe the Town can save some money and use that to fix its multi-generational-old storm water drainage problems? There is a long list of things that the Town can do for the citizens but its not going to happen if the money is draining into the APD so some lucky individuals can play cop.

7 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 1, 2019 at 10:22 am

Obvious solutions: lock your doors, leave a light or two on, arm your alarm (and have it connected to the police department), have someone house sit if you are away (or have police check on the property). Hire more police to do nothing but run patrols around town constantly.

More drastic: the city should install license plate cameras at key intersections throughout the city (and not tell us where so thieves aren't made aware of them). These people are getting away in cars somehow. Portola Valley has since installed them after their rash of burglaries. I know PV has fewer roads in and out, but Atherton could pick some major arteries (and a few not so obvious) and place cameras at those points to help us find these people when crimes occur.

6 people like this
Posted by Benjamin
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 1, 2019 at 10:24 am

Hate to say it, but maybe it is time to set up street cameras supervised by the police station? That way they can keep an eye on what is going on, but most importantly have evidence of license plates and suspicious activity after there has been a concern. As long as these cameras only sees the streets and not into properties it may be a reasonable compromise, I think most people are slowly accepting the fact that most public spaces are under surveillance, so why not Atherton.

3 people like this
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 1, 2019 at 12:13 pm

I was at the meeting Thursday 1/31 evening. One resident admitted to leaving their alarm off inside the house because cobwebs were causing too many false alarms while they were traveling to NY or AZ.
REALLY ????? !!!!! I'll bet their cleaning staff can't find a ladder.
Another resident complained about APD not following up their burglary case.
REALLY ???? !!!!! S'matter, your phone broke.
Not sure you want to outsource police services to the Sheriff. Their caseload is most likely so high (proximity to RWC real crime) they won't get to your case for days. APD responds in minutes.

4 people like this
Posted by Pathetic
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Feb 1, 2019 at 1:49 pm

It seems to me, that it is time to dump the Atherton and Redwood City Police departments and, bring in some detectives, and roll it all up into the San Mateo County Sheriff. The Atherton Police are great at writing speeding tickets, and feeding cats and dogs, but where is the real work being done? Residents across the area are on pins and needles, wondering if they will be next.

7 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 1, 2019 at 3:07 pm


Contract those police services to the sheriff. Atherton residents are not getting what they are paying for in services-protection.

Sheriff has a large overtime budget and 700 plus employees.

If you’re a criminal where would you commit crime. In a place that is understaffed in personel and has the lost valuable stuff. Atherton is perfect.

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