Atherton has seen a spike in residential burglaries since November, prompting town staff to study the potential impacts of installing license plate readers and security cameras around town. Last month's meeting was the second on the burglaries since January, when 200 residents packed the Jennings Pavilion and expressed concerns about the uptick in crime and what police were doing about it.
At the April 30 meeting, police shared annual data on burglaries dating back to 2000, which showed the town has seen more burglaries in previous years. There were 65 residential burglaries in 2000 compared with 26 in 2018, according to police.
There have been 13 residential burglaries in town since the year began, with the most recent occurring on the unit block of Lane Place last week, according to police. There were six residential burglaries in January and two per month February through April, police said.
Following a spike in burglaries in November and December, the town has since seen the number of residential burglaries each month drop closer to the average, Police Chief Steven McCulley said.
Police have leads on suspects throughout the West Coast and even internationally, but they have not arrested anyone affiliated with the rash of burglaries, police said. Police believe there are one to three groups carrying out the burglaries, and that the same burglars have hit other towns along the Peninsula, they said at the meeting.
Police shared the most recent arrests they have made:
•One weapons arrest (stemming from a suspicious vehicle parked in front of a home)
•One burglary arrest (for electronics stolen from Encinal School)
•Three arrests for mail theft and possession of stolen property
•One arrest for prowling on a property
•One arrest of a convicted felon on parole for burglary
One resident at the meeting said the recent string of burglaries has caused her to feel nervous for the first time in her 35 years in town. Some residents asked if they could make donations to the police to help combat crime.
Officers also noted at the meeting that the recent burglary suspects have not been confrontational and said burglars generally aren't looking to threaten or physically harm anyone.
"We don't want you to feel unsafe in your homes," said McCulley, who noted that violent crime is rare in Atherton and said there were 112 reported incidents of violent crime in town in the last 10 years, most of which were between people who knew each other.