Mountain View Voice

News - July 19, 2013

Crime briefs

Child abuse alleged at preschool

A special investigative unit within the Mountain View Police Department is looking into child abuse allegations at a local preschool. Police say that there is an accusation that an employee of Little Acorn Preschool inappropriately touched a student.

Police did not release many details on the case because the investigation is in process. In a July 17 statement to the press, Sgt. Dan Vicencio did say that the accused staff member has been placed on administrative leave. Students at the preschool have been interviewed by detectives trained specifically to talk to children about suspected abuse, and parents were informed about the investigation in a letter.

Little Acorn Preschool is run by the First Presbyterian Church of Mountain View and is located at 1667 Miramonte Ave.

"As long as the investigation is going on we don't have any comments at this time," a representative with the church said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, no arrests have been made, according to police. "We will not make a determination as to the guilt or innocence of the parties involved until we have collected enough evidence to move forward one way or the other," Vicencio said.

Two prowlers caught

Two men, who may have been looking for a home to break into, were arrested this morning after a witness called police about their suspicious behavior, according to a recent post on the Mountain View Police Department's blog.

The men were seen entering the backyard of a Mountain View household by a neighbor who called the police at 10:16 a.m. "In light of recent residential burglaries, several officers responded to the scene to assist in setting up a perimeter," the post read. The blog did not identify the area where the men were spotted.

Officers began searching the backyard where the men were seen by the witness, according to police. The men fled on foot, but were soon overtaken and arrested on charges of prowling and conspiracy. One of the suspects had a pellet gun.

According to the blog, the police were greatly assisted by the witness, who stayed on the phone with dispatchers while police searched the area. This allowed dispatchers to relay information to the police on the ground.

"This call is a great example of how and why it is so important for witnesses to stay on the line with us when we're dealing with an in-progress situation," Lt. Greg Oselinksy said in the post. "We are able to ensure the public's safety, as well as our officers' safety, when we receive a continuous flow of solid information from someone who has eyes on the situation."

One of the suspects is a juvenile and was not identified. The other was identified as Marcus Hernandez, a 20-year-old from San Jose.

Pair of houses burgled

Two homes on the 200 block of Hans Avenue were broken into and ransacked on the same day, likely by the same burglar or team of burglars, according to a Mountain View Police Department spokesman.

In the first incident, the child of the homeowners came to check on the house to find that someone had cut a hole in a rear sliding screen door and then pushed open the sliding glass door, which was unlocked and may have been open, according to Sgt. Dan Vicencio, public information officer with the MVPD. The interior of the home was ransacked.

According to the police report, it was burglarized between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The second incident occurred on the same day and on a similar timeline — between 10 a.m. and 6:45 p.m., Vicencio said. A side door to the home had been pried open and the interior was ransacked. Approximately $3,000 in jewelry was stolen.

Vicencio said the two crimes were likely linked.

Car thieves nabbed

A routine traffic stop turned into a brief chase and ended in the arrest of a man and a woman who had been driving around in an apparently stolen SUV on July 16, according to police.

At about 3:30 p.m. a police officer stopped a silver BMW with a paper license plate, according to a Mountain View Police Department blog post. The car pulled over near the intersection of Rengstorff and Crisanto avenues and the woman handed the officer a driver's license, which turned out not to be hers.

Once the officer had the license in his hand, the woman drove away, ultimately heading east on Villa Street, according to the MVPD blog. Police were able to track down the driver and her passenger on the 200 block of Palo Alto Avenue, where the two got out of the car and started running.

The passenger, a man, was caught immediately, according to police. Officers set up a perimeter and began looking for the driver. With the help of some police dogs the woman was found hiding in a yard on the 1300 block of Villa Street.

The man was identified as Hanschris Ballente of Stockton and the woman was identified as Kathryn Scudder of Modesto.

Ballente had a felony parole hold for assault with a deadly weapon. He also had meth on his person, police said.

The driver's license Scudder handed the officer was reported stolen from Marin County and the car was reported stolen out of Contra Costa County, said police.

Together, the two were arrested and booked on numerous counts, including grand theft auto, possession of meth and possession of stolen property, which was found in the car.

—Nick Veronin

Family brawl

A disagreement between a father and son that became physical in a south Palo Alto business' parking lot began with the son brandishing a knife and ended with him disarmed, with stitches in his hand, and booked in the Santa Clara County Main Jail.

Palo Alto Police Officer Sean Downey said details of the disagreement that led to the fight are unclear. He said the pair, Mountain View residents who had a been at odds and arguing lately, had been driving on Hwy. 101 toward Palo Alto in separate cars, when they exited at San Antonio Boulevard, got out of their vehicles and interacted.

After speaking, they continued on West Bayshore Road until they reached the 3400 block of the road, at which point they exited their vehicles again. This time, the son, 23-year-old Conor Tiffin allegedly had a 8- to 9-inch fixed-blade kitchen knife, which he brandished at the father, Downey said.

Downey said Tiffin approached his father with the knife, the father punched him in the face, and the two began "brawling." During the struggle, Tiffin dropped the knife, cutting his palm, and as onlookers began to appear his father told them to call the police.

Police arriving on the scene arrested Tiffin, took him to the hospital, where he was given stitches, and transported him to the main jail, Downey said.

Tiffin's father complained only of minor neck pain after the incident, he said.

—Eric Van Susteren

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