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Police: Rise in Atherton burglaries is 'alarming'

Police department announces creation of new volunteer patrol program

Residents meet over Zoom to discuss a recent rash in burglaries during a June 29, 2021, hosted by the Atherton Police Department. Screenshot by Angela Swartz.

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.

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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.

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Police: Rise in Atherton burglaries is 'alarming'

Police department announces creation of new volunteer patrol program

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Jul 1, 2021, 10:25 am

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.

Comments

Sandy
Registered user
Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 1, 2021 at 2:20 pm
Sandy, Atherton: West Atherton
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2021 at 2:20 pm

A lunch time uninvited guest showed up in our garage and rummaged through all our cars taking Designer sun Glasses. This was committed in broad day light .
The big item was driving one of our cars out of the property trying to accomplish a Car Theft.
Unfortunately for the intruder we witnessed this daytime robbery.
The Atherton police were at our property in under four minutes which was so assuring.
The culprit got away in a car standing by that had most likely dropped him off.
The moral to this story is do not leave anything in your car parked in your garage most importantly the Keys~~


Lloyden Park Res
Registered user
Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jul 1, 2021 at 2:50 pm
Lloyden Park Res, Atherton: Lloyden Park
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2021 at 2:50 pm

Someone broke into our garage just this weekend and stole bikes, backpacks and shoes. Atherton police were super prompt and helpful. Keep your doors locked, lights on and cameras on.


Thoughtful
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Jul 4, 2021 at 7:50 am
Thoughtful, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Jul 4, 2021 at 7:50 am

"Atherton police were super prompt and helpful."

In the aftermath of the robbery, not preventing it.

The town council has to come to grips with the fact that the policing model currently in Atherton is not going to adequately address the wave of break ins and robberies, and this will get worse and worse over time as more and more resources are put into compensating existing officers instead of hiring new ones.

(See article on budget: "A little over $9 million will go toward the police department, an increase from last year's police budget of $8.4 million, to account for some additional expenses, including the purchase of a new squad car, as well as increased salary and benefits costs." – $600K increase in budget, an increase of 7%, which is substantially higher than inflation, with ZERO going to new policing).

They obviously don't like having to face this reality, because the union has done an excellent job of sticking their thumb on the scale, but Atherton must move to an outsourced police model with professional private patrol, not residents doing the patrol as outlined in this article, which perhaps was done in response to my repeated suggestions.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jul 4, 2021 at 8:35 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jul 4, 2021 at 8:35 am

Thoughtful:

Yes, the town can and should get their policing done for less money. But changing to the Sheriff won't solve the problem. The problem is that given the configuration of Atherton and the fact that most homes in Atherton are behind walls, the only way police find out there is a burglary is after the fact or if an alarm goes off.

Part of this burglary problem is the responsibility of the residents. Virtually every home in Atherton has an alarm system. BUT, not everyone arms them. In fact, I'd hazard the guess that most don't. And THAT is the problem. Alarms in Atherton, unlike any other city in the Bay Area, allow the alarm to be connected directly to their dispatch center. If it is and the alarm is armed, the police will be there in less than four minutes of an alarm going off.

If the citizens of Atherton want to cut down on burglaries they need to take responsibility for their part of it. I know that it's very difficult for wealthy people to take responsibility, but they have to. Otherwise this problem will continue. A walled residence with an unarmed alarm system is a very soft target and the crooks know most people in Atherton aren't arming their alarms.


Thoughtful
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Jul 4, 2021 at 9:24 am
Thoughtful, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Jul 4, 2021 at 9:24 am

@Menlo Voter:

Quite a few homes without walls have also been burglarized in the past year. If private patrol were rigorously driving our streets, thieves would have to think twice about parking in front of a walled residence. Or trying to leave and enter the town on foot.

Most homes in Bel Air are behind walls also, but they utilize private patrol very effectively and are not having this wave of thefts. Private patrol has worked there, in conjunction with the LA PD/Sheriff they outsource to.

Of course, alarms are necessary, but do garages have alarms, as in Lloyden Park Res's theft? Or cars parked in a driveway?

You bring up a valid point, but I have not been reading the articles or press releases about thieves breaking into an alarmed home, and the alarm going off, and APD getting there to catch them or at least stop the burglary. It can't be that the thieves have been 100% accurate in predicting the homes they break into are not alarmed. In fact, a lot of the burglaries have happened during the day with the residents in the home.

If the alarm were the 100% answer, we could be saving $9M per year. Unfortunately, it's not.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jul 5, 2021 at 7:59 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jul 5, 2021 at 7:59 am

Thoughtful:

I never suggested alarms were a 100% answer. They are a big piece of the puzzle, however. Private patrols would be a great addition to either APD or if the town contracted with the Sheriff. I've never understood why private patrols weren't a part of Atherton's crime prevention efforts. They're cheap and a great way to supply many extra eyes on the street.

They could also do like Monte Sereno did years ago and contract with the adjacent town's police department. They are covered by Los Gatos PD. Atherton could easily contract with Menlo Park PD.


lspw
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 11, 2021 at 4:29 pm
lspw, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 11, 2021 at 4:29 pm

And keep all doors locked during the daytime!! One Sunday a well-groomed guy walked into our home via the attached garage (via 2 unlocked doors), but left quickly and without incident when I confronted him inside the house. He was no doubt hopeful that he'd see something that he could grab quickly and run. In hearing his description, the MPPD believed that he was a guy who had acted similarly in other cases. (We live adjacent to Atherton.)


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