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Atherton couple grateful for community support after burglars cause $1 million in damage

Atherton residents Dean and Clary lost more than valuables when their home was burglarized -- flooding from a broken faucet caused about $1 million in damage to the house. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

During an evening in November, an Atherton resident saw a "river" of water running down a neighbor's driveway.

The neighbor called the homeowner and police. In the flooded home, first responders found a bathtub faucet handle lying next to a safe.

Burglars had apparently entered the house and broken off the handle to use as a tool to try to open the safe. When the home began to flood from water leaking from the broken handle, a fire alarm sounded and the thieves fled.

The result? Mold, a home gutted after 16 hours of flooding and about $1 million in structural damage. Burglars also took about $20,000 of items stolen (mostly jewels).

The homeowners, Clary and Dean, are among the 28 families burglarized in town in 2021. It appears the case is tied to the string of burglaries tied to Chilean gang members, the couple and police said.

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The Almanac agreed not to publish their last names due to their safety concerns.

Clary and Dean were on vacation during the break in and talked with a police officer over FaceTime to see the extent of the damage. Most of the items in the house were ruined, including Dean's two handmade guitars.

"How do I get back what I lost so I'm not forever injured?" Clary said. "We have the perseverance to recover."

As a result, she said they are more aware of their surroundings and are more prone to notice unusual cars and people in their neighborhood.

We check our doors repeatedly now, and check strange sounds in the night. Sleeping is with one eye open.

-Clary, Atherton homeowner who was burglarized

"We check our doors repeatedly now, and check strange sounds in the night," she said. "Sleeping … is with one eye open."

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The pair now plan not to leave their home without activating their security system, even for a few minutes. They also added sensors to glass windows and doors.

At the time of the burglary, half the alarm system was activated since they had someone coming daily to check on the home, but not the alarm that would directly alert the police of a break in.

Community support

Dean and Clary, center, spend time with their daughter and grandchildren on Dec. 14, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

From neighbors calling them and police as soon as the flooding began to family members temporarily housing them, Clary and Dean said they were touched by the people who helped them.

Family and friends helped the two, who flew back from their trip early, to move personal items, even heavy furniture and damaged rugs.

"It changed our hearts and attitudes to a spirit of fight and resolve; we were on a mission to recover," Clary said. "I still get a little choked up. It’s really the kindness that does it to us; it's not feeling violated."

Home security cameras captured two women and a man breaking into the home through a window at the back of the house.

"Though we were devastated, it was comforting to know they were going to do what they could to catch the criminals," she said of the police. "The response reminded us that the spirit of our community will never be overcome by the darkness of criminal activity," Clary said. "We will have a heightened awareness for our safety. … The police would like us all to know they’re working to catch this ring of criminals; it can help by reporting all suspicious people."

Menlo Park Fire Protection District fire fighters help remove a piano from an Atherton home that flooded when burglars removed a handle from a bathroom faucet. Courtesy Clary.

Police believe that home burglaries over the last year in Atherton — including the theft of $800,000 worth of jewelry reported stolen from a home on Dec. 8, 2020 — are linked to a crime spree in town in 2018 by members of a Chilean gang operating out of Southern California.

Police are analyzing items found through a search warrant.

"I would say it appears this burglary is connected with the rest of the burglaries we have had, but I cannot say anything definitive until the search warrant returns are received and looked through," said Atherton police Sgt. Anthony Kockler in an email.

Police plan to host a community meeting with residents about the burglaries on Feb. 16.

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Atherton couple grateful for community support after burglars cause $1 million in damage

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Tue, Jan 18, 2022, 11:07 am

During an evening in November, an Atherton resident saw a "river" of water running down a neighbor's driveway.

The neighbor called the homeowner and police. In the flooded home, first responders found a bathtub faucet handle lying next to a safe.

Burglars had apparently entered the house and broken off the handle to use as a tool to try to open the safe. When the home began to flood from water leaking from the broken handle, a fire alarm sounded and the thieves fled.

The result? Mold, a home gutted after 16 hours of flooding and about $1 million in structural damage. Burglars also took about $20,000 of items stolen (mostly jewels).

The homeowners, Clary and Dean, are among the 28 families burglarized in town in 2021. It appears the case is tied to the string of burglaries tied to Chilean gang members, the couple and police said.

The Almanac agreed not to publish their last names due to their safety concerns.

Clary and Dean were on vacation during the break in and talked with a police officer over FaceTime to see the extent of the damage. Most of the items in the house were ruined, including Dean's two handmade guitars.

"How do I get back what I lost so I'm not forever injured?" Clary said. "We have the perseverance to recover."

As a result, she said they are more aware of their surroundings and are more prone to notice unusual cars and people in their neighborhood.

"We check our doors repeatedly now, and check strange sounds in the night," she said. "Sleeping … is with one eye open."

The pair now plan not to leave their home without activating their security system, even for a few minutes. They also added sensors to glass windows and doors.

At the time of the burglary, half the alarm system was activated since they had someone coming daily to check on the home, but not the alarm that would directly alert the police of a break in.

From neighbors calling them and police as soon as the flooding began to family members temporarily housing them, Clary and Dean said they were touched by the people who helped them.

Family and friends helped the two, who flew back from their trip early, to move personal items, even heavy furniture and damaged rugs.

"It changed our hearts and attitudes to a spirit of fight and resolve; we were on a mission to recover," Clary said. "I still get a little choked up. It’s really the kindness that does it to us; it's not feeling violated."

Home security cameras captured two women and a man breaking into the home through a window at the back of the house.

"Though we were devastated, it was comforting to know they were going to do what they could to catch the criminals," she said of the police. "The response reminded us that the spirit of our community will never be overcome by the darkness of criminal activity," Clary said. "We will have a heightened awareness for our safety. … The police would like us all to know they’re working to catch this ring of criminals; it can help by reporting all suspicious people."

Police believe that home burglaries over the last year in Atherton — including the theft of $800,000 worth of jewelry reported stolen from a home on Dec. 8, 2020 — are linked to a crime spree in town in 2018 by members of a Chilean gang operating out of Southern California.

Police are analyzing items found through a search warrant.

"I would say it appears this burglary is connected with the rest of the burglaries we have had, but I cannot say anything definitive until the search warrant returns are received and looked through," said Atherton police Sgt. Anthony Kockler in an email.

Police plan to host a community meeting with residents about the burglaries on Feb. 16.

Comments

Anneke
Registered user
another community
on Jan 18, 2022 at 12:52 pm
Anneke, another community
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2022 at 12:52 pm

It is high time that we start punishing these thieves and vandals a lot harsher, otherwise we will encourage them to even do more.

Please check your direct neighbors' homes at night before you retire for the evening. Even small checks may discover these crimes.l

I am sorry for the couple.


Clary
Registered user
Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 18, 2022 at 2:22 pm
Clary , Atherton: West Atherton
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2022 at 2:22 pm

Thank you, for this article to bring awareness to our community. We are a great community and it’s time to pull together.


Clary
Registered user
Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 18, 2022 at 2:22 pm
Clary , Atherton: West Atherton
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2022 at 2:22 pm

Thank you, for this article to bring awareness to our community. We are a great community and it’s time to pull together.


Thoughtful
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Jan 18, 2022 at 3:54 pm
Thoughtful, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2022 at 3:54 pm

Menlo Voter mentioned on another thread that these burglaries are taking place because residents are not turning on their security alarms, and this article seems to confirm this (rather senseless) reality.

Yet, I am still missing something.

How do the crooks know in advance the given home doesn't have an alarm that's turned on?

I don't see how that can be reliably ascertained in all cases, so where are the articles talking about the house broken into that was alarmed, and the police getting there in a few minutes and catching the crooks? Or at least the crooks running away without getting caught?

I haven't seen any.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 18, 2022 at 8:09 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2022 at 8:09 pm

Thoughtful:

They can't ascertain it with a certainty in advance, but enough people in Atherton don't use their security systems that the likelihood of tripping an alarm in Atherton is low. The odds are in their favor. Crooks talk, they know this from the experience of others that have hit Atherton. I'd hazard the number alarms that tripped in Atherton is extremely low and that's why you never hear of one being tripped and crooks being caught or seen running away. When 95% of a community (an educated guess) don't use their security systems targets that could be hard are rendered soft.

I'd also hazard a guess that one reason people in Atherton don't use their alarms is because when they first start using them the frequency of false alarms is high. The police respond and, if false, issue a false alarm card. After a certain number of these people start getting fined for their false alarms. I suspect at that point many people say "screw it" and quit using their alarms. Not a wise decision, but not surprising, unfortunately.


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