The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has filed charges against a man they believe is responsible for numerous window-smash auto burglaries of rental cars at Palo Alto restaurants.
Vernon Rayshaun Evans-Carmichael, 22, of San Francisco has been charged with 27 felony counts of burglary and grand theft after a string of window-smash auto burglaries, Palo Alto police said.
Evan-Carmichael's alleged crime spree dates back to June 24, 2013, when police received a call about an auto burglary in progress at Stanford Shopping Center. Police searched for the culprit, and a witness who noted the suspect's license plate number told police a man fled in a blue 2013 Ford Escape SUV.
The thief had taken electronics such as laptops and tablet computers from five rental vehicles after smashing car windows. Officers could not locate the burglar's vehicle that night, but detectives later identified Evans-Carmichael as a suspect and obtained a felony warrant for his arrest on Oct. 3.
The San Francisco Police Department arrested Evans-Carmichael on the warrant on Oct. 22. He was charged with five counts of auto burglary and five counts of grand theft. He posted bail, but failed to appear at his arraignment. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest but detectives were unable to locate him at that time.
Nine window-smash auto burglaries occurred on Tuesday evening, Jan. 14, at the Fish Market at 3150 El Camino Real. Seven of the vehicles were rental cars, and the burglar also targeted small electronics. Evans-Carmichael was suspected in those cases, police said.
On Jan. 16, the Oakley Police Department in Contra Costa County located and arrested Evans-Carmichael on the 1300 block of Gamay Circle, based on the Palo Alto warrant. He was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail by Palo Alto detectives for the warrant and violation of his probation for a 2012 felony burglary conviction in San Francisco, police said.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office filed on Jan. 24 an additional 17 felony counts -- 10 counts of auto burglary and seven counts of grand theft, including a Jan. 13 window-smash auto burglary of a rental car at Sundance The Steakhouse at 1921 El Camino Real.
Evans-Carmichael now remains in custody on $350,000 bail.
Despite his arrest, auto burglaries have continued in Palo Alto. Eight burglaries occurred on the evening of Jan. 23 in downtown parking garages.
Car burglaries continue to be a rising regional trend and are not specific to Palo Alto, police said. In 2013, Palo Alto officers investigated 409 auto-burglary reports, the highest total since at least 2007. Police have already taken 47 auto burglary reports in 2014.
The public can reduce auto burglaries by removing valuables from cars or, if necessary, securing them out of sight prior to arriving at a destination, police said. Car windows should be tightly closed and doors should always be locked.
In some cases, burglars are smashing windows and using the trunk release latch to get at property. Palo Alto police suggest enabling GPS-tracking security features on all portable electronic devices and to become familiar with how to use them. Victims of lost or stolen property should call police immediately and not independently try to recover stolen property, police said.
Detectives continue to investigate all unresolved auto-burglary cases. Anyone with information about the car burglaries or Evans-Carmichael is asked to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.
More crime-prevention tips are available at the department's website: www.cityofpaloalto.org/StopCrime.