Palo Alto police surrounded a Palo Verde home for five hours after receiving a report of forced entry Monday night but officers were ultimately unable to find the suspects, who had apparently fled just before the police arrived.
The resident, a woman in her 30s, had returned to her home in the 800 block of Ames Avenue with her baby and an adult relative at about 6:26 p.m. when she saw that the back door had been forced open. All three went outside to call the police, at which time she heard a door inside her home slam shut.
Police arrived minutes later and used the woman's smart phone to access surveillance footage from inside her home. As they watched video footage of two suspects inside her bedroom, the video cut off, possibly as a result of one of the men inside turning off the power, according to police.
Other officers soon arrived at the scene, surrounded the home and repeatedly called out through a megaphone for the men to come out with their hands up. They also later brought in police dogs to search the lower level of the home.
At about 9:30 p.m., the department's Crisis Negotiation Team and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team arrived -- units that specialize in situations where suspects barricade themselves.
Police also used the AlertSCC notification system to notify residents in a one-block radius around the house to remain inside with their doors locked. Police said 93 homes in the area received the notifications.
Officers finally entered the home at about 11:28 p.m., but could not find the suspects. The SWAT team also searched nearby yards and hiding places before declaring the entire scene clear at about 11:45 p.m., according to a press release. All the residents who were notified to stay indoors received a notification that the situation was resolved.
Police later discovered that the footage they had seen on the smartphone had not been live, as they originally thought, but was recorded earlier in the evening. Officers determined that there was "a small window of time prior to police arrival during which the suspects escaped," according to a press release.
An investigation indicated that the suspects broke into the home between 5:45 p.m. and 6:25 p.m. by forcing open a rear door after getting into the backyard from an unlocked side gate. The suspects, described as two black men in their mid-20s wearing all black clothing, allegedly ransacked the home and stacked several "valuable items" near an exit door. As of late Monday night, officers had not yet determined what had been stolen.
Police said they are not ruling out the possibility that additional suspects were involved. Officers are reviewing footage to find video snippets or stills that are sufficiently clear to help identify the suspects.
Officers received assistance during the response from the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (which provided one canine unit) and the Stanford Department of Public Safety, which helped set up the perimeter.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the police department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.