An elderly Lindenwood resident awoke to two strangers lurking in her bedroom with flashlights one night last month. She screamed and the two fled through the same smashed French door they used to break into her home.
She is one of the 28 burglary victims in Atherton this year, the police department said to about 80 attendees of a Tuesday night community safety meeting on Zoom. About $115,000 worth of goods have been taken so far in 2021, according to Atherton police. Of that, approximately $24,000 in goods has been taken since April 1, police Chief Steve McCulley said in an email.
"We're not concerned about the take, we're concerned about the rise in these burglaries," McCulley said, noting that nearly 30 burglaries is an "alarming" number for Atherton.
The town has seen an uptick in burglaries over the last three years. These latest crimes do not appear to be connected to the November 2018 to February 2019 burglary spree that police believe is tied to Chilean gang members the same thieves who are suspected of taking $800,000 worth of jewelry from an Atherton home in December 2020.
Police announced at the meeting that they are launching a volunteer patrol training program to help deter crime. Residents who participate will take a four-hour training that teaches how to look out for suspicious activity. Participants will not carry weapons, but police will give them a vest to wear while on patrol, McCulley said, and they must commit eight hours a month to patrolling.
The last three residential burglaries reported in Atherton took place in unoccupied detached structures overnight on June 24 on Placitas Avenue and Middlefield Road.
A bicycle (valued at $10,000) was taken from a detached unlocked garage in the first block of Middlefield Road. Between 5:45 p.m. and 5:55 a.m., someone ransacked an unoccupied pool house on the first block of Placitas Avenue. Someone broke into a locked garage at another house on Placitas, but nothing was taken.
Someone reportedly took items from unlocked cars during the weekend of June 19 on Lloyden Drive.
Before that, there were two residential burglaries reported on June 11 one on Melanie Lane and the other on Greenoaks Drive. Two others occurred between June 7 and 8 on Stockbridge Avenue and on Selby Lane.
Atherton police advise that one of the best strategies to prevent a burglary is to make your house look occupied even when you are away from home. Most of the break-ins are happening between 5 and 8 p.m., Sgt. Anthony Kockler told residents at the Tuesday meeting. Burglaries are not necessarily happening in areas of town where there is more construction taking place, police told one resident who asked about a link between the two.
Police will move into their new offices in the town's new $31.6 million civic center in the next six to eight weeks, McCulley said.