News

Atherton police to hold meeting on recent burglaries, license plate readers

A license plate reader at Fair Oaks Lane and Middlefield Road in Atherton. Courtesy Atherton Police Department.

Atherton police are heralding the installation of 21 automated license plate readers in town as a success and are inviting residents to a meeting Wednesday, Dec. 9, to discuss the new program, as well as recent burglaries in town and crime prevention over the holidays.

Police first proposed the idea to install cameras in town in response to a rash of 20 residential burglaries over a four-month period between November 2018 and February 2019.

Town police tested two automated license plate readers made by Flock Safety in Holbrook-Palmer Park earlier this year. Automated license plate readers (ALPRs) are mounted on police cars or on fixtures such as road signs and bridges. There were already public safety cameras at Holbrook-Palmer Park, and new police vehicles are equipped with ALPR cameras as part of their existing dashboard cameras.

"Our top priority is keeping our residents safe while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars," said Atherton Police Chief Steve McCulley in a Dec. 2 press release. "Flock's ALPR technology allows us to do both. We intend to use this technology to quickly identify the perpetrators of violent crime and other crimes. When a crime occurs in Atherton, we will use this technology to identify any suspect vehicles as well as the suspects."

The town's police blotter shows records of burglaries in town on Oct. 1, Oct. 11, Oct. 30, Nov. 17 and Nov. 18. Police confirmed there were five residential burglaries and one attempted residential burglary in town since Oct. 1. Of the five residential burglaries, two of them were bicycles taken from auxiliary structures.

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In May, the City Council approved buying Flock Safety automated license plate readers for a cost of $2,000 each, starting in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which began July 1. Four will be installed on Middlefield Road; four on Alameda de Las Pulgas; two on Valparaiso Avenue; one on Marsh Road; two on Atherton Avenue; two on Selby Lane; and one at Ringwood Avenue and Bay Road, according to a report prepared by staff for the meeting.

The Dec. 9 meeting takes place at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

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Atherton police to hold meeting on recent burglaries, license plate readers

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Dec 7, 2020, 11:25 am

Atherton police are heralding the installation of 21 automated license plate readers in town as a success and are inviting residents to a meeting Wednesday, Dec. 9, to discuss the new program, as well as recent burglaries in town and crime prevention over the holidays.

Police first proposed the idea to install cameras in town in response to a rash of 20 residential burglaries over a four-month period between November 2018 and February 2019.

Town police tested two automated license plate readers made by Flock Safety in Holbrook-Palmer Park earlier this year. Automated license plate readers (ALPRs) are mounted on police cars or on fixtures such as road signs and bridges. There were already public safety cameras at Holbrook-Palmer Park, and new police vehicles are equipped with ALPR cameras as part of their existing dashboard cameras.

"Our top priority is keeping our residents safe while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars," said Atherton Police Chief Steve McCulley in a Dec. 2 press release. "Flock's ALPR technology allows us to do both. We intend to use this technology to quickly identify the perpetrators of violent crime and other crimes. When a crime occurs in Atherton, we will use this technology to identify any suspect vehicles as well as the suspects."

The town's police blotter shows records of burglaries in town on Oct. 1, Oct. 11, Oct. 30, Nov. 17 and Nov. 18. Police confirmed there were five residential burglaries and one attempted residential burglary in town since Oct. 1. Of the five residential burglaries, two of them were bicycles taken from auxiliary structures.

In May, the City Council approved buying Flock Safety automated license plate readers for a cost of $2,000 each, starting in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which began July 1. Four will be installed on Middlefield Road; four on Alameda de Las Pulgas; two on Valparaiso Avenue; one on Marsh Road; two on Atherton Avenue; two on Selby Lane; and one at Ringwood Avenue and Bay Road, according to a report prepared by staff for the meeting.

The Dec. 9 meeting takes place at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

Comments

RanchGal
Registered user
Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 7, 2020 at 12:27 pm
RanchGal, Atherton: West Atherton
Registered user
on Dec 7, 2020 at 12:27 pm

Can someone tell me what good it does to arrest these criminals? There is no arrest for trespassing, Felonies are pled down to misdemeanors (plea agreements so as not to clog up courts which we TAXPAYERS are funding) and they are released to reoffend. It’s just a revolving door. I’m sure the police departments are so disheartened when they see the same criminal faces over and over again. We need judicial reform but it was voted down on November 3. Disgusting. One thief has been arrested SEVEN times this year!


Really !
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2020 at 1:55 pm
Really !, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Dec 7, 2020 at 1:55 pm

Can't get a simple BOGO from APD when crime occurs - have to read the Post to learn about criminal activity = not happy about that...
ALPR's don't work for walkers or bikers and the "smart" criminals block their license plates.
LOTS of walkers all over. Porch pirates abound. Mail theft is up. This year people are hungry.
Burglars, Meet Mr. Smith & Mr. Wesson.


Thoughtful
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Dec 7, 2020 at 7:35 pm
Thoughtful, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Dec 7, 2020 at 7:35 pm

"Burglars, Meet Mr. Smith & Mr. Wesson."

Inside the four walls of your home, that "should be" okay, although others have been prosecuted in other states recently for exercising similar "established" rights.

If the burglar is on your property (but not inside your home), it's much less clear, unfortunately.

If this program helps reduce crime, great. That doesn't mean Atherton can't put some pretty strict privacy guidelines in place to prevent abuse as it's getting started. That's also very important as this tool can be abused.

When I say that, I mean the privacy guidelines should be stated publicly and up front, not just "the APD is mindful of privacy concerns" or similar such pablum.


Paul Goeld
Registered user
Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Dec 8, 2020 at 7:52 am
Paul Goeld, Woodside: Woodside Hills
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2020 at 7:52 am

Really !

Not all criminals make the effort to walk or use a bicycle which can make an exit difficult or limits the loot they can take. They also don't cover their license plates which would certainly attract the attention of the police. How many cars do you see driving around with covered license plates?

ALPRs are a cheap deterrent and they work. They discourage criminals who will choose other neighborhoods and they catch people casing the neighborhood searching for easy targets. When a crime is committed, it is ridiculously easy to review the license plate log at the time and place of the crime and quickly identify suspects.

But the goal is prevention and assuming there are signs showing their use, ALPRs do this quite well. If they just cut crime in half, and I think they do far better, that would be well worth the small investment.


Really !
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 8, 2020 at 12:49 pm
Really !, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Thoughtful. Thank you captain obvious. If you've ever had an intruder, you wish you had protection.

Paul Goeld...you are in no position to speak for the residents of Atherton.
And yeah, I've seen license plates with photoblockers installed.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Dec 9, 2020 at 6:52 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2020 at 6:52 am

Really!:

Those "photo blockers" don't work.


Robert Cronin
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 9, 2020 at 5:28 pm
Robert Cronin, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2020 at 5:28 pm

Satire: To catch the perps on bikes, just use facial recognition software. Oh right, they will just wear masks.


Really !
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:53 am
Really !, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:53 am

Did ALPRS work yesterday when $790,000 worth of jewelry was stolen from a house (Frederick at Greenoaks) ?
This is not a test.

Menlo Voter: Fake license plates don't work either.
Photo blockers do work. Ask FDLE about their record...


Thoughtful
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Dec 10, 2020 at 10:31 am
Thoughtful, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2020 at 10:31 am

The problem Atherton is having with crime would be best addressed by looking at what other upscale neighborhoods have done. For example, Bel Air down in Los Angeles uses the LAPD but pays for private patrol.

Recipe for Atherton:

1. Outsource police to Sheriff.
2. Save a lot of money.
3. Use some of those savings to pay for lots of private patrol at a cost per man hour FAR, FAR less than what we're paying for police (no pensions, just to start).

This would have a very meaningful effect on crime. But the town council won't even consider talking about such a thing as outsourcing the police, and obviously we don't have the money to pay for private patrol without doing so.


Paul Goeld
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Dec 10, 2020 at 1:35 pm
Paul Goeld, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2020 at 1:35 pm

Did ALPRS work yesterday when $790,000 worth of jewelry was stolen from a house (Frederick at Greenoaks) ?

I don't know. As you said, the robbery just happened.

But should they find that burglar using ALPR, I presume you will change your mind?


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Dec 10, 2020 at 2:56 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2020 at 2:56 pm

really!

photo blockers don't work. Ask anyone that's received a red light camera ticket that had them. Camera sees right through them.


Paul Goeld
Registered user
Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Dec 16, 2020 at 3:23 pm
Paul Goeld, Woodside: Woodside Hills
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 3:23 pm

From today’s Almanac: “One of the town's new license plate readers captured an image of the vehicle involved in the Dec. 8 burglary in which nearly $800,000 worth of jewelry was taken from a home, DeGolia said in a Tuesday, Dec. 15, email. Police have linked the same car to two other thefts in the Bay Area, he said.“

So, yes, ALPRs DO work.


Thoughtful
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Dec 16, 2020 at 7:40 pm
Thoughtful, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 7:40 pm

Seems like we should know today if the ALPR works. If it got an image of the vehicle plate, an arrest should have either happened already or very soon, right?

I just can't get over the spectacle of Atherton paying the most per capita for police services in the Bay Area…maybe even the whole world…and the best we can do to try to fight this crime is an ALPR.

So Almanac, let us know if the culprits have been caught and arrested on the ALPR data.


Thoughtful
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Dec 21, 2020 at 7:38 pm
Thoughtful, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Dec 21, 2020 at 7:38 pm

Since I wrote the above comment, there has been no word of any arrest being made based on the "lead" from the ALPR, and there was another burglary in Atherton.

This does not seem to add up to evidence of the ALPR's effectiveness.

It is safe to say Atherton is going through an epidemic of crime right now, and the town council should be taking some definite steps to make our tax dollars go for real crime prevention.

What we have isn't working.

What's all the more shocking is that all these crimes are taking place during COVID, when everyone tends to be at home all of the time.


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