Midpeninsula Post

Rise in crime has Altaire residents frustrated and afraid

Palo Alto City Hall in November. (Emily Yao)

Eight residents of Altaire Walk, a neighborhood in Palo Alto, asked the city council for aid against the rise in crime at Monday’s council meeting. As of two weeks ago, 107 residents signed a petition that calls on the city council to make safety a priority through police presence.

In the month of January alone, three “occurrences” were cited. But this has been a continual problem for the neighborhood; suspects have trespassed, stolen mail and packages, ransacked bike cages, and even broken into a mailroom vault and stolen important personal documents in the past year. 

To protect themselves, residents have begun replacing destroyed fencing and locks. However, the seemingly endless “crime wave” led many to bring their frustrations to the meeting.

“Since 2020, we’ve had experiences of seemingly weekly or daily thefts of bicycles, mail, packages, items within storage units, and car break-ins,” Altaire resident Sharon Lee-Nakayama said during the meeting. “I feel like I’m playing ‘whack-a-mole’ with thieves.”

Residents have voiced their fear and frustration from these recent criminal activities. Some said they no longer feel safe on “evening walks,” or are apprehensive about letting their children freely play outside.

“The greater harm isn’t the loss of bicycles or amazon packages, it’s the loss of the psychological safety of our community,” Altaire resident Chase Garber said. “This has a growing and insidious effect on people’s feeling of safety living in Palo Alto.”

Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt told the speakers that council members were aware of the issue and sympathized with Altaire residents. While Burt said that the council can’t discuss matters that aren’t on the pre-written agenda, he did ask city manager Ed Shikada to respond.

“I want all residents to be aware that our Palo Alto police department staff have reviewed the circumstances,” Shikada said. “I’d like to invite any resident to contact me directly. … We will bring all our existing resources to bear.

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