Palo Alto police arrested a Mountain View man early Saturday morning after he allegedly tried to steal a car from a driveway, repeatedly backing into another car before being confronted by a resident and fleeing. With the help of a police dog, officers found the 20-year-old Alex Guevara hiding in a nearby yard, took him into custody without incident and booked him into jail.
The investigation revealed that the victims, a couple in their fifties, had their two cars parked in front of one another in their driveway. They heard the sound of squealing tires and looked outside to see an unknown man in the driver's seat of their car (a 2000 Acura sedan) parked furthest up their driveway, police said. The man was trying to back the car out of the driveway past their other car (a 1999 BMW sedan), repeatedly striking the two cars against each other as he attempted to force his way out to the street, police said. One resident called the police while the other went outside to investigate. The man then abandoned the car in the driveway and fled on foot southbound on Emerson Street while carrying a bag.
Both vehicles sustained minor damage. The Acura's door had been left unlocked, and Guevara had found a spare key hidden inside the car, police said.
Officers used a police dog to track Guevara through several residential yards in the 2600 block of Emerson Street, finally finding him in the backyard of a home in that block. As the dog approached him, Guevara surrendered to officers. Police located a bag of unidentified property nearby in bushes near the sidewalk, and took it for safekeeping, they said.
Police booked Guevara into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for felony vehicle theft, felony vandalism (for damaging the two cars) and misdemeanor prowling (for being in someone's rear yard without lawful purpose).
Guevara, who is on active probation in Santa Clara County for possession of marijuana for sale, possession of concentrated cannabis and possession of a weapon on a school campus, was also booked for a felony violation of that probation.
Later Saturday morning, a resident in the 2600 block of Emerson Street contacted police to report that their video surveillance system had captured Guevara walking down the street that morning shortly before this event, looking into parked and unoccupied cars. The video showed him entering one unlocked vehicle and rummaging around inside, police said. It also showed him hiding a bag in a bush next to the sidewalk (the bag officers had collected earlier).
Using the video, officers contacted the owner of the vehicle Guevara broke into. The owner, a woman in her forties, checked her car and reported that an MP3 player was missing, police said. She said she had likely left it unlocked. Officers found the MP3 player inside the bag and returned it to the woman. Police said they will be recommending the District Attorney's Office file additional theft charges be filed against Guevara.
None of the remaining unidentified pieces of property inside the bag are electronic devices; all are small items without obvious substantial monetary value, according to police.
Police encourage residents to always lock unoccupied vehicles to prevent easy access for prospective thieves.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to email@example.com or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police department's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.
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