Thieves ‘terrorizing’ neighborhood

Altaire Walk resident Ivan Boyadjieva, who monitors the neighborhood’s security cameras, said thieves somehow had a key that opened up the intercom system and unlocked the mail room in less than 10 seconds. Post photo by Braden Cartwright.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Residents of a neighborhood plagued by crime have signed a petition calling on the Palo Alto City Council to make crime prevention a priority. It’s a last resort for the community, which has spent the last two years desperately trying to keep thieves out.

“The same criminals come back week after week, often multiple times on the same week, terrorizing our community and children,” says the petition, which was signed by 107 residents of the Altaire Walk neighborhood in south Palo Alto. “They have no fear about their faces or cars being caught on camera because they know nothing will be done. They know they can rob and terrorize Palo Alto residents with impunity.”

Altaire Walk is a gated townhouse complex at 901 San Antonio Road. For the past two years, the neighborhood has been hit over and over by thieves at all times. Packages and mail are stolen most often, but bikes and storage lockers have also been targeted.

Residents have taken it into their own hands to prevent thefts. They added and changed locks, modified doors with metal guards, switched gate codes and shortened the time that the gate stays open.

Lately, a volunteer has gone to the mailroom early in the morning to take pictures of the packages and email them out to residents, and then he or she hides the packages in an electrical room.

Thieves have responded in their own creative ways. They’ve used power tools to cut through gates, crowbars to break doorknobs and modified keys to get into mailboxes.

“It’s like whack-a-mole,” said Sharon Lee-Nakayama, a board member of the Altaire Walk homeowners association.
Almost all of the thefts have been captured on video, has been shown to police.

Ivan Boyadjieva, who lives at Altaire Walk with his wife and two kids, said officers have always come out, taken reports and collected video, but the results of their investigation haven’t been revealed to residents.

Resident chases package thief

One time, a resident chased a package thief until police arrived and arrested him. Another time, a woman saw her stolen bike for sale online. Police set up a sting in San Jose, but the seller claimed he wasn’t the thief, Boyadjieva said.

Sgt. Craig Lee suggested hiring a security guard, but the homeowners association can’t afford it, Lee-Nakayama said. Guards would have to work 24/7 because thieves come at all times of day.

Police Capt. James Reifschneider said in an email that mail and package theft is an ongoing crime trend in the Bay Area, and Palo Alto is no exception. He acknowledged the frustrating situation at Altaire Walk and thanked residents for partnering with police.

“While I wish I could say that we’ve solved all the reported crime at Altaire Walk over the past year, I can say that we have completed numerous investigative reports, identified multiple potential suspects, and continue to work with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and our regional law enforcement partners, to include the U.S. Postal Inspectors, on this regional problem,” he said. “I am optimistic that active, on-going investigations will yield criminal charges.”

Emotional impact

The impact of the thefts goes beyond what is stolen, as the emotional effect is palpable.

Now that residents are more vigilant in the mailroom, they’re scared that more thefts will take place around the home. Children can’t play in the courtyard without fear, and the community can’t sleep in peace, the petition says.

The Boyadjievas didn’t have their regular Christmas tree this year because they put their bikes in the living room so they couldn’t get stolen. Instead of a full-sized tree, they had a small one on the table.

Only Councilman Greg Tanaka responded to the petition, which was delivered on Jan. 17. He met with a group on Monday. The six other council members haven’t responded, Lee-Nakayama said.

“We’re all voters, and the fact that we didn’t get responses from them? No excuse,” she said. “It’s their responsibility. Practical items like crime prevention should be addressed.”


  1. Isn’t this the townhouse/condo community attached to to the Jewish Community Center. Used to be Sunmicrosytems and Altair Walk and the JCC were built in 2011. Are the JCC and the Jewish Home also having these criminal acts? Can they all work together to police the community?

  2. Council and staff won’t get involved with this (except Tanaka) because they were all on the “defund the police” and BLM side of the riots in 2020. They’re the ones who bought the paint for anti-police activists to paint a banner in front of city hall, so they’re not going to ask police to protect citizens.

    If you want a safe town, don’t vote for “woke” council candidates!!!

  3. The council allowed the mural but did not defund the police. If any of them believe in the “defund” movement, it’s certainly not the majority. Get your facts straight.

    • Get your facts straight. Palo Alto is staunchly Democrat and Progressive when voting. All these recent laws of No Bail, release prisoners (Newsom),decriminalize thefts, and an Attorney general (Banta) who feels his first priority is to go after Police has a definite undeniable Democrat stamp on them. Has no one ever connected these dots? Newsom apologizes for calling thieves robbing trains “gangs”. Do you think all these thefts are being committed by first time offenders?? If the good citizens want to continue voting for this stuff then stories such as this should be located on the comic pages.

        • But Palo Alto voters are supportive of these people, Newsom, Banta. Wake up. Look at election results. And that Council is right in league. You never hear any effort to overturn these non sense early release, no bail, $950 free theft laws. The canary in the coal mine may be these poor people suffering repeated crimes in that building. But they’re not blameless, they helped empower these soft on crime laws! I pretty confident that you voted for all this really stupid soft on crime laws as well. What have you to say about this problem now?

  4. “Paly02” should get his facts straight. In June 2020, the City Council had planned to cut 15 firefighters and cops. After some last-minute finagling in which the public safety unions agreed to put off future raises, council cut five full-time positions and two police officers were paid to retire early. Yes, council defunded police, though the council members will now say they were just imposing austerity measures. “Paly02,” don’t re-write history.

  5. Hmm, I’m beginning to wonder if Kathy, the person above, wrote the Anti-black graffiti found at El Carmelo the other day. One has a reason to believe based upon how she felt about councilmembers supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement!

  6. Salary freezes etc were NOT because of the “defund” movement – it was because we had no money due to the lack of hotel tax during the pandemic. You can say that the austerity measures are just a cover, but they’re not. I’ve listened to most of the council meetings for the past few years and the members make clear that they aren’t interested in the defund movement – they have literally said so. I believe when we have the funds again, they will bring back officers and increase salaries. So Ed M’s claim of a “cover” of austerity measures feels a little too conspiracy theory for me.

  7. Nice try at minimizing council’s actions, but council did more than freeze salaries. Cops were shown the door and the city literally bought the paint BLM activists used to put an anti-police street mural on Hamilton Ave. These are facts recorded on tape and in the council minutes, not a conspiracy theory.

    • By Jove, you’re right! A more naive person might say that the art commission and the artists they chose have some autonomy, but if you really think about it – the money given to the art commission was budgeted by city staff… who only produced a budget because the COUNCIL DIRECTED them to.

      At this point, the answer is clear to those of us with eyes to see and ears to hear – fire the council, fire the art commission, ban all art that isn’t first approved by the police department. Only then will Altaire Walk find peace.

    • Sure. Just make sure you vote for the same people who have done absolutely nothing to secure the City thus far. I’ll bet you your catalytic converter nothing changes except it gets worse.

      • Only one council person—Greg Tanaka—bothered to visit the Altaire Walk resident. The invitation was extended to all seven council persons and the city manager. I can only conclude that the other council persons didn’t want to face the music … take responsibility for their actions. We have a counsel that is soft on crime, and now we’re seeing the consequences of that. Time for a change this fall.

    • why should they? don’t they pay taxes too? aren’t they entitled to the same level of protection as members of the city council are in their own homes?

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