There were two more residential burglaries in Atherton over the last week, the latest in a string of incidents that police believe are tied to a similar burglary spree two years ago. Police may also have a lead on the culprits, Mayor Rick DeGolia told The Almanac Wednesday, Dec. 16.
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.
The most recent burglaries, which police shared details of in a Tuesday, Dec. 15, night news bulletin, took place between Dec. 7 and Dec. 15. They are among the nine burglaries in town since Oct. 1.
One likely occurred on Dec. 9 at a house on Atherton Oaks Lane near Hillview Middle School when a burglar alarm activated around 6:11 p.m. The victim, who wasn't at home, was notified their alarm activated, but believed it was a false alarm and canceled a police response. The resident reported that some time between Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. and Dec. 14 at 2 p.m., burglars entered the second-story master bathroom by smashing the glass door using a ladder in the resident's backyard. The victim is unsure if anything was taken.
Some time between Dec. 14 at 1:30 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 9 a.m., burglars broke into a residence on the 200 block of Polhemus Avenue. The thieves climbed to the second story of the home and broke a balcony door window to get into a master bedroom. The burglar alarm was functioning, but only armed on the first floor. Nothing has been reported stolen at this time.
The town announced Sunday, Dec. 13, that the victim of a residential burglary Dec. 8 is offering a $50,000 reward in collaboration with police for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the burglary.
In that incident, burglars broke the glass in a second-story balcony door after climbing up the house using a downspout, police said. Approximately $790,000 in jewelry, including two men's Stanford University football Rose Bowl watches, were stolen.
The license plate readers that likely caught the culprit of the Dec. 8 burglary were first proposed as a response to the 2018-19 burglary spree.
The town installed 21 cameras to help deter crime and possibly capture criminals going to or leaving the scenes of burglaries.
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.
In May, the City Council approved buying Flock Safety automated license plate readers at a cost of $2,000 each starting in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which began July 1.
DeGolia noted at a Dec. 9 community meeting on crime that for a town like Atherton in which residents value their privacy, 21 cameras is a large number to have installed, but the hope is that the Flock cameras were able to capture any vehicles the burglars arrived in Tuesday night and in other instances.