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Police allocate "additional resources" for downtown protection


Photos by Melissa Hartman/Town Crier
An unknown suspect or suspects attempted unsuccessfully to force entry into Marcel Jewelry Design on Main Street Aug. 19 by breaking the glass in the shop’s storefront.

Law enforcement received word of an attempted commercial burglary on the 100 block of First Street in Los Altos Aug. 18. The following day, two more attempted commercial burglaries were reported on the 200 block of Main Street, according to CrimeReports.com.

Los Altos Police Department Capt. Katie Krauss confirmed the incidents in an email to the Town Crier Aug. 20. Due to an uptick in commercial burglaries, Krauss added that “additional resources” have been allocated to the area for the sake of protecting local businesses.

Marcel Jewelry Design store owner Bruno Marcel questioned the “additional resources” after discovering that meant one officer in plain clothes patrolling the shops at 4 a.m. Marcel’s business, which he and his wife have run for more than 40 years, was one of the two storefronts hit Aug. 19.

“What really gets me – you can quote me on this or whatever, because I’m not scared of anybody or what the hell they think of me – is they have six or eight policemen with motorcycles or cars at the (Thursday) farmers’ markets, and at Pet Parades they have eight to 10 policemen,” Marcel said. “Any event they have, you see a lot of police presence, which is good, but the merchants that are here – it’s a lot more than these two or three – (say) this has been going on for a while now.”

Play-by-play

CrimeReports.com revealed that the incidents were called in at 7:36 a.m. Aug. 18 and 5:36 a.m. and 10:09 a.m. Aug. 19. The crimes likely occurred before then and were reported on CrimeReports later, Sgt. Cameron Shearer said.

Passersby could see the temporary tape holding together the shattered glass in the front window of Marcel Jewelry Design at 262 Main St. Aug. 19. The following day, crews had removed the broken glass and replaced it so that the business could resume operations. Marcel said he spent $7,000 repairing the vandalism; he called the damage done “fantastic.”

“I have a great door, with great bars on it, great everything, so they couldn’t actually come in,” he said. “I would rather have given them the key and let them take what they wanted.”

Shearer did not reveal the names of the other two businesses, but he and Marcel offered clues that pointed to Bluemercury, the beauty store at 252 Main St., next door to Marcel Jewelry Design, and Encore Designer Collections, the consignment store at 197 First St., one block away.

Marcel said the suspect or suspects, not yet identified through the early phases of the police investigation, mistook Bluemercury’s back door for his own and tried gaining access that way.

“They got in and made a mess in there,” the longtime business owner said of the neighboring shop.

Staff at the Los Altos location of Bluemercury referred the Town Crier to the chain’s press team. Representatives of Bluemercury did not reply via email prior to the Town Crier’s print deadline. However, dirt footprints in the middle of Bluemercury’s door and wood chipping around the handle and base – still visible days later – corroborated Marcel’s claim that suspect(s) tried and failed to enter through the back of the building by the parking plaza.

Crystal-clear intention

Shearer had no background knowledge of the Aug. 19 attempted commercial burglaries, but he shared some details of the Aug. 18 incident, noting that it occurred at “a place that is a partial jewelry store at least, but sells other stuff as well.” Marcel mentioned during his conversation with the Town Crier that he knew the consignment store across from Safeway on First Street had been burglarized the day before his shop; directly across from Safeway sits Encore Designer Collections. Encore owner Christy Drexel, who also owns Round Robin Consignment Store at 146 Main St., said she was not yet ready to comment on the incident.

This was not the first time this year Marcel’s store was targeted; between March 31 and April 2, his business as well as Smythe & Cross Fine Jewelry, located at 350 Main St., and Preziosi, located at 652 Fremont Ave., were all victims of a seemingly unsuccessful jewelry heist. Suspects caught on surveillance cameras – two men who have not been named publicly by detectives as the investigation continues, Shearer said – attempted to break into Marcel Jewelry Design through the roof, damaging a skylight in the ceiling.

“This used to be a real quiet town,” Marcel joked. “Maybe I should strap on a gun and be a vigilante. They wouldn’t like that.”

While Marcel made light of the incident, his daughter, Tina, wasn’t amused.

“Where is the police department?” she asked. “There are no funds for fingerprints, no funds for this or that, but everyone is getting robbed. I’m not trying to be rude or anything, but I’m starting to worry about my mom and dad’s safety. What about if somebody followed them home? We don’t know (the people) doing this.”

Personal safety and financial losses aside, Marcel knows even attempted crimes at his business change the way his customers think when they learn what happened.

“They’re afraid to leave anything with me overnight, and I don’t blame them,” he said. “Luckily, they didn’t get my safe, come into my store. My customers see this and they say, ‘I don’t want to leave my watch, my ring, or anything. It’s bad for business.”

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