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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Police report spike in burglaries

Los Altos Police are warning residents to take added precautions in securing their homes and vehicles to help prevent burglaries.

Police Capt. Andy Galea told the Town Crier that the city has experienced an average of nearly 10 residential or commercial burglaries per month during the 2012-2013 fiscal year – more than double the monthly average from the previous 12-month span. In August, he noted, police recorded a combined total of eight residential and commercial burglaries. Conversely, the city totaled 45 incidents in 2011-2012, or slightly fewer than four burglaries per month, which Galea termed “a fairly low rate.”

He noted that Los Altos isn’t the lone Bay Area city experiencing a bump in burglaries.

“This is not something that is unique to Los Altos. Everywhere in the Bay Area there’s been an increase,” said Galea, who added that local incidents “tend to come in waves.”

Crimes of opportunity

Without citing specific statistics, Galea said “a significant” number of the break-ins occurred because thieves entered the homes through an unlocked door or window.

In other cases, he noted, residents left their garage doors raised, which prove “too tempting” to thieves, who walk in and swipe items typically found in a garage – bicycles are a “primary target.”

During one August incident, a resident who left her garage door open while home came face to face with a man attempting to steal a bike from her garage storage closet. The startled burglar dropped the bike when confronted and fled the scene.

“They can be in and out of there literally in about 10 seconds,” Galea said.

Galea said the department has also seen a rash of auto burglaries throughout Los Altos. In several cases, he added, the crimes “proved too tempting” to burglars, because cars owners left their vehicles unlocked and failed to remove valuables like GPS units, laptops, iPads, purses and wallets.

“A significant number of these thefts from vehicles have been crimes of opportunity,” he said. “Locking your vehicle and not having things in plain sight really help prevent those opportunities.”

An ounce of prevention

Galea noted that residents could do more to make their homes less susceptible to a break-in. They should always lock all doors and windows to their homes, even when leaving for short errands. When traveling on vacation or business, Galea recommended that residents notify a nearby trusted neighbor of their plans, in addition to arranging for someone to check the home periodically and pick up mail.

The goal, he said, is to make the “home look occupied,” because burglars typically look for telltale signs like unattended front lawns and piled-up newspapers before breaking in. Other deterrents noted by Galea include the purchase and installation of video surveillance systems or house alarms. Smaller steps, like hiding an emergency house key in less predictable locations, can also help prevent burglaries.

“If you’re going to hide a key somewhere, be more creative than leaving it under the doormat or a potted plant near the front door,” he said. “That’s where everyone leaves their spare keys.”

Galea concluded that the best rule of thumb for residents to follow is to contact police whenever there’s even a shred of doubt.

“We can drive down the street or see someone standing on the corner, but it’s the residents in the neighborhoods who can tell when things are out of place,” he said. “They know their neighborhood best.”

To report suspicious activity, call the Los Altos Police Department at 947-2770.

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