The Palo Alto Police Department just reported the city’s annual crime statistics. Turns out residential burglaries are up 52% over the past year. This doesn’t surprise me. Not at all. I imagine the growth is even greater in my building where theft has become so common that most of my neighbors don’t bother to contact the police anymore.
Talk about your rude awakening. After me and my apartment were bonded together in legal union, we did not enjoy a honeymoon period. Within a few short few weeks, three crimes touched my new home.
The first was the break-in of our private storage unit.
My neighbors informed me that this is a frequent occurrence because we have homeless people squatting in the rooms. Our cages may lack the luxury found throughout the fine homes and estates of Palo Alto, but these indoor accommodations still beat the lawns and benches available across our outdoor parks and avenues. Call me a NIMSU (Not In My Storage Unit), but this is not acceptable.
The second was the forced entry to my car in our secure parking garage.
This event was so mundane that the police were not willing to investigate. Their facilities at city hall are only three blocks away, so at the very least I expected they would come to take fingerprints. But no. Guess I should be grateful that the thieves stole my garage gate clicker. Next time they want to burgle our building, they will be spared the inconvenience of smashing my car windows.
The third was the robbery of the locked apartment located right above my own home.
Since I had heard the events in real time, I was asked to give an account to the police, as were a few of the other neighbors. Actually, I missed the first several minutes of the episode because I was talking on the phone with a friend. Nevertheless, I had tuned in by the end of the first commercial break and was immediately riveted by the unfolding drama.
The police arrived with blaring sirens, screaming bullhorns, and barking lupines. When they sent in the attack dog, it was extremely disturbing to hear man and canine rolling around on the floor directly overhead. The ferocious beast was savaging the intruder. There was growling, snarling, biting, and ripping. The intruder wailed in pain for a seemingly endless period of time.
Neighbors reported that a second intruder got away by scrambling down a tree.
A third intruder — a woman who was heard laughing raucously and believed to be drunk or high — presumably absconded by climbing down the fire escape.
In due course, the public defender requested my statement. We reviewed the events moment by moment. When we finished the chronology, the PD returned to the very beginning of the timeline, asking “would you say your phone conversation was a quiet one?”
In that moment, one aspect of the crime was resolved. It became all too clear that the so-called “laughing woman” was not an accessory partying with the intruder in #407, but was in fact me, talking on the phone in #307. Me! I was the moll.
The intruder and his runaway accomplice were convicted of burglary and sentenced to serve time. Despite my impassioned appeals, the homeowner’s association refused to undertake a single measure to improve building security, insisting that living with crime is an unalterable attribute of living downtown. I do not agree.
So, would be burglars of Palo Alto, consider yourselves warned: I own a regulation major league baseball bat and have surprisingly good eye-hand coordination. Do not dare and mess with me.
© 2013 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.