Suspect behind dozens of car break-ins arrested in Palo Alto

Palo Alto Police say within a 20-minute time frame Monday morning, 27-year-old Andrew Peacock of Oakland broke into cars at four different parking lots along El Camino Real.

According to authorities, he started at the Town & Country Shopping Center, then drove south and broke into cars behind a Starbucks, at the Corner Bakery Cafe and a Hobee's Restaurant.

Authorities said this quick series of crimes is not unusual.

"Just last month was our worst month in probably a year and a half in terms of the sheer volume," explained Palo Alto Police Sergeant James Reifschneider. "We had almost 60 auto burglaries reported just during the month of May."

Sgt. Reifschneider says in every single one of those cases, something valuable was left in plain view.

In Monday's case, police spotted the suspected auto burglar at the In-N-Out Burger on Rengstorff Avenue in Mountain View.

"He didn't stop for the detectives," said Reifschneider. "In fact he drove his car right through one of our unmarked detective cars which was attempting to block the driveway."

After evading police, a Los Altos Police officer spotted the suspected thief at Grant Road and Fremont Avenue. Officers later caught up with him at the Rancho Shopping Center where they say he was hiding in a bathroom at the Los Altos Bakery Cafe.

Inside his car, authorities said they found items from dozens of auto burglaries all over the Bay Area, including checks and electronics.

"Really you just don't want to be the low-hanging fruit is really the advice," said Reifschneider. "If you put away your stuff, that's half the battle."

Mountain View mother Robyn Hughes told KTVU she keeps her valuables in her trunk.

"The Stanford Dish they say is also dangerous to leave your stuff out, because they know you're going to be there a whole hour doing your four miles or whatever. So I'm extra careful there too," said Hughes.

Palo Alto Police say generally speaking, the most targeted locations are parking lots along El Camino real and downtown parking garages.

They said thieves also target rental cars, looking for instances of business travelers leaving electronics behind.