Rash of South Bay Burglaries Puts Residents on Edge

Mayank Agarwal and his family thought a quick trip to Lake Tahoe in February would help alleviate the stresses and monotony that came with the last 11 months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Then, on the second and final night of their stay, Agarwal got a notification from their Ring doorbell around 9:48pm, showing four masked men leaving their home in the Almaden neighborhood.

“I was shocked and I panicked … from our security footage, just five minutes prior, they came to our cul-de-sac, broke in through our back sliding door, and decamped with a ton of valuables,” he says. “We just lost our life savings worth of valuables in this heist.”

Agarwal’s story is similar to other noted home burglaries over the last two months in San Jose and Los Gatos that have left residents on edge and police with few leads. An Evergreen home was burgled of nearly $250,000 valuables by a similar group, which disabled security cameras, KTVU reported last month. Agarwal, who has been following the break-ins, estimates at least $1 million has been stolen in recent robberies like his.

According to Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department Capt. Clinton Tada, there have been 17 residential burglaries since the start of 2021 in his jurisdiction. The majority included three to five suspects who often broke glass to force their entry into a home. Police think the break-ins may be related.

“For us, we link all of these cases together … all of these cases are under current investigation,” Tada says. “We’re obviously collaborating with other jurisdictions in our surrounding county—San Jose, Saratoga, Campbell—and seeing what other similarities they may have as well.”

SJPD spokesman Sgt. Christian Camarillo says the department has no additional information about the recent burglaries in San Jose.

San Jose officials have long boasted the city as the “safest big city in America,” and in years past it was recognized as such. For instance, it came in as the sixth safest city in America as of 2015, according to SmartAsset. But the city has since dipped, according to the finance, technology and data company. In 2019, San Jose didn’t make the top 35 in the same annual list as crimes in the city have increased slightly above both state and national rates—although before the pandemic, burglaries were on the decline.

Christina Valentine says she learned about the burglaries in her Alta Vista neighborhood when she and her fiancé returned from a weeklong trip to find their sliding glass door shattered and the sun room door kicked in.

She says an SJPD community service officer told the couple, “Oh, I was just at your neighbor’s house earlier today … same thing happened to them.”

Valentine says she asked a friend to check on the house during her trip, and the friend’s last visit to the home was on the same day of the attempted burglary. Valentine’s neighbor had a home burglary alarm, which reportedly sounded as the burglars went in and then out of the property without being apprehended.

Luckily for Valentine and her neighbor, nothing was stolen from their homes; the burglars left behind watches and prescription medication. But, after learning more about the burglaries via Nextdoor, Valentine says she’s still concerned that SJPD have not reached out with any updates.

“Ultimately, I think we all won’t have peace of mind until these four get caught,” she says. “The fact that it is a pattern and the same areas, and they haven’t been caught yet ... we’re all putting it together.”

Likewise, Agarwal says his frustration and shock around the burglary have been amplified by the lack of updates from SJPD. He provided four videos to the department for the investigation, he says, but got no response from officials.

“Police action has been very minimal,” he says. “I haven’t seen anyone be assigned to my case, or any activity or anyone reaching out for more information.”

Along with the city’s “safe” ranking, the number of sworn and authorized officers have declined in recent years. Cuts to SJPD staff began under former Mayor Chuck Reed and steadily dipped as the Covid-19 pandemic settled into the region and the public reacted to the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, with some calling for reduced funding to the department.

Based on San Jose’s Annual Report on City Services for 2019-20, the city has 110 officers per 100,000 residents and, as of June 30, 126 sworn vacant positions for street-ready officers. Even so, response times have remained relatively steady, at approximately seven minutes per call.

By comparison, Los Gatos-Monte Sereno has 39 sworn police officers for 33,649 residents—a ratio of one officer per 863 residents.

But whatever the reason for the lack of communication, Agarwal says he’s taken getting to the bottom of the burglaries into his own hands. He has scoured Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Craigslist, Ebay and other re-selling sites to see if he can spot any familiar items. He’s also spoken to a private investigator, who told him that often jewelry is melted down to avoid the risk of being discovered as stolen property.

Nearly a month later, none of his family’s items have turned up.

Agarwal and his family, who moved to the neighborhood two years ago, no longer feel as secure in their home as they once did, he says. The family is considering moving.

“Some neighbors said this was the first burglary they’ve seen of this kind in 28 years, of this block’s existence,” he says. “We pay so much in taxes, and that money not coming back to us in the form of safety is the most frustrating part. … In San Jose, I have zero faith that the police will do anything.”

Valentine, a San Jose native who moved to her Alta Vista home in October,  is working with neighbors to create a neighborhood watch group, largely in response to the lack of communication from SJPD, she says.

She brought up her concerns at a recent community meeting with San Jose council members, but says the topic only elicited ideas for temporary fixes.

“We’ve been trying to throw out ideas—do we hire private security, do we start a GoFundMe to put up a reward for catching these people,” she says. “We’re at least trying to build relationships with our neighbors to keep an eye out.”

Tada hopes residents in the area will “remain vigilant” and contact the police immediately about suspicious activity.

“It’s obviously of great concern to us that our small community is being targeted,” he says. “It’s something that we’re actively investigating and trying to deter from a patrol and investigation standpoint.”

29 Comments

  1. This will be the norm due to a lax on crime environment. We no longer punish property crimes like burglary, car theft in many cases. It’s profitable to be a career criminal in the Bay Area

  2. This is only going to get worse. There is plenty of blame to go around but ultimately it is the voter to blame.

    Having said that, the public don’t have all the information.

    -We don’t have enough police and less want that job.
    -We don’t have a DA that is willing prosecute ALL crimes.
    -We don’t have a judicial system (judges) that is holding criminals accountable. (I.e. zero bail if when bail is allowed)
    -Probation isn’t allowed to supervise criminals and hold them accountable (i.e. on probation for stolen vehicle and is arrested for another stolen vehicle and released with no probation violation). Property crime.
    -Legislature making laws that are soft on crime. (Prop 47, 57)

    Vote for a different DA, different judges, different council, supervisors etc.

  3. Went to Bloomingdales at Valley Fair Tuesday to get my wife a gift. There were three (3) officers at one exit by the jewelry dept., working pay jobs. No impact of cuts or political opinions there.

  4. The only reason we have low crime is the police won’t even file a report for car break-ins, and person or property theft under $1K. Over the last year downtown San Jose has become a war zone. My secured building is broken into weekly, usually with crowbars, and the police don’t respond, don’t care about video footage, and just tell us there is no lock or door to keep out the homeless and nothing we can do. Meanwhile we aren’t allowed to install a security gate because it would be a code violation. The streets every morning are littered with broken glass from car break-ins. Safest big city my a**.

  5. The result of a Liberal-run city in a Liberal-run state in a Liberal-run country. Criminals are practically rewarded, and deserve our compassion and our help. Car break-ins, car thefts, package thefts, shoplifting, etc. etc. are not even considered to be crimes worth a police visit. Add to that the popularity of “defunding the police” and you can understand why we are where we are.

    Why Liberals put up with this I haven’t a clue…since everything is Liberal run, I can’t see any way this can be blamed on conservatives.

  6. I think what Kulak said, “you get what you vote for”, sums it up perfectly.
    If you want change, stop voting for the same Liberal do gooder mindset over & over again.
    Maybe try voting for someone with a “tough love” mindset?

  7. LOL. Uh… last I checked the country was run by a conservative president for four years and Republicans held the senate for SIX years. And you’re calling this a liberal-run country like all the Conservative funnel-money-to-billionaires policies don’t have any downstream effects. Yep, things just change at the flip of a switch when the country changes presidents. Please get your brain checked out.

    Also this is San Jose. Sam Liccardo completely rejected the idea of defunding the police here. But yeah let’s just keep blaming liberals without any real thought or evidence or anything. Typical.

  8. Well, the cops are busy harassing people of color, so, well, no one cares

  9. I’m sorry that these people have to be scared now but they’re going to be fine. Nobody’s going to care if some dude got his jewels snatched and nobody was hurt, especially the police. It’s just some shiny rocks.

    If we’re going to have a society with this much inequality, some equilibrium is going to happen. Just this organism’s way of reaching homeostasis.

  10. This is obviously the work of out of work Silicon Valley billionaires. A gang of rich white supremacists’ who want to steel from the poor and send donations to powerful politicians who will keep housing unaffordable and out of the hands the brown and black majority of stupid voters.
    Jeepers Batman, maybe Gotham City should outlaw being white!

  11. What do you expect from a country that doesn’t “hang” its’ criminals?
    David S. Wall

  12. In Southern California metros there was a run-up with criminals going into the neighborhoods offering better pickings after law changes that got softer on crime. To some extent this may be what’s at work here, or there may be another Surge in the making with the “progressive” prosecutor movement plus government wokeness.

  13. The “understaffing”, the “underfunding”, the “overworking” of our police force is a total non explanation of why the cops aren’t doing anything. Truth is they get their marching orders from downtown. Just look at Silly Hall. ALL Democrats. ALL Pro Gress Ivs. They don’t WANT the police to do anything. They WANT the “privileged” whites of San Jose to suffer, to be punished. Punished for what you ask? Well for being white of course!
    Tweakers Rule!

  14. Having lived in West San Jose for 16 years….. The SJPD will not help you. Here’s what we did to protect ourselves. We put carpet nail strips on the top of our fences (7 foot). If you put those nail strips on your gates only, that could be a deterrent. You can buy them at Home Depot. We put padlocks on our 6/7 foot fence gates. We put signs out front saying “you are on camera” We cleared brush near the area where folks could clear fences, so they could be seen. Not saying any of this helped, but we did not get burglarized. Keep people out of your backyard.
    Good luck.

  15. SJPD won’t even take your report for serious violent crimes, when you give one in another city for it to be transferred they still ignore it. Suspect in my case had hundreds of people’s stolen financial reports from his car dealership job and was selling them but SJPD wasn’t interested in that either. The investigation clearance is pretty sad even if they can try to goal tend you from making a report. Misclassifying records is their favorite practice to keep those crime rates looking good.

  16. A neighborhood has to earn a reputation for being dangerous to criminals. Intruders, pet nappers, drug dealers, and mail thieves will avoid a part of town where a few of them are found hanging by their necks or shot to bits on the sidewalk. If enough communities make it a point to execute crooks on the spot, they will move out of the state entirely because there will be no place they can safely operate. I admit this would be a very unpopular idea because most people actually feel sorry for criminals and believe that even their lives have value.

  17. To the one that said this, “LOL. Uh… last I checked the country was run by a conservative president for four years and Republicans held the senate for SIX years.”…apparently you have not checked in last 2 months. And liberal policies have literally been in effect for the last 30-40 yrs throughout Bay Area, and in the last 20 yrs in all of California, and yet here we are, with the absolute worst in living conditions, drug abuse and rehabilitation, poverty, homelessness, and every other quality of life indicator. And now Bay Area and CA politicians thinking that this model works so well locally, now want to take this same model nationally. This model has failed all taxpayers and is no longer a viable means of running a society.

  18. ” the city has 110 officers per 100,000 residents and, as of June 30, 126 sworn vacant positions for street-ready officers. …….

    By comparison, Los Gatos-Monte Sereno has 39 sworn police officers for 33,649 residents—a ratio of one officer per 863 residents.”

    aaack! Is there some reason you can’t do the math properly so the average reader can get an idea of a comparison? Why do you do this? Usually it means the reporter is trying to obfuscate something.

    To complete the reporter’s job, the ratio for San Jose is 1 officer for every 909 residents.

  19. Liberal denial on here is beyond comical. But but but there were cops working security for a business that is outside the city budget. Hey rocket scientist, anyone can hire off duty. Staffing and cuts are ALL on the city and the image of doing more with less jack boots terrorizing citizens *sarcasm. We are soft on crime and this is the result. Libs need to get over it. Trump was in office 4 years making changes where he legally could do it. Look in the mirror techi engineers, your local CA and cities have fought anything that resembles law and order all along the west coast. Get over yourselves, you do get what you voted for. Lack of critical thinking is just astounding but then again were dealing with people who are all about deflection and lack of discipline.

  20. They vote with their emotions, not with their head.
    They mean well, but good intentions alone don’t help anyone.
    Then you have the predators that prey on the emotions of those that mean well, they’re called Democrats (and/or Liberals), and they mean to only advance their own wealth, power and position. They could care less about the environment, minorities, or the homeless. They only care about themselves.

  21. That’s right..blame liberals. You need to watch your conservatives. They only care about breaking in and destroying Gov property.
    As far as defund the police. They need to take away some of their frivolous funds. Anytime a bunch of white cops gang up on Black people. and put a knee on a black man’s neck, chokes a Black man, breaks a man’s back, and so on…….well then they need to be defunded and prosecuted too.
    What would our white people say, if the black male cops started using excessive force on white men and women.and used force the same way? What you’re going to say then??

  22. As goes San Francisco, goes the fate of “Progressive Values”

    https://www.courts.ca.gov/prop47.htm

    Shoplifting. The proposition added Penal Code section 459.5 to create a new misdemeanor offense called “shoplifting,” punishable by up to 6 months in county jail. Shoplifting would be defined as “entering a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny while that establishment is open during regular business hours” where the value of the property does not exceed $950. Any other entry into a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny is burglary. Any act of shoplifting as defined above must be charged as shoplifting. No person charged with shoplifting may also be charged with burglary or theft of the same property.

    https://stanfordreview.org/chesa-boudin-san-francisco-crime/

    Some nuggets:

    In the first 11 months of 2020, 621 people died from drug overdose in San Francisco, mostly from heroin and fentanyl. The DA’s office has allowed these drugs to proliferate throughout the city. (For some perspective on the scale of this human tragedy, only 173 died from Covid-19 in San Francisco in the same period.)

    If we can save JUST… ONE… LIFE… its all worth it…

    Property crime exploded in 2020, with burglaries surging almost 50%, an increase driven heavily by repeat offenders, whom Chesa Boudin actually referred to as “prolific folks.” Car thefts are up 36.3% and arson is up 40%.

    I guess there’s always insurance.

    You got what you voted for. And you still can’t learn…

  23. San Jose PD started to go down hill when Chief Rob Davis to over. His motto was do more with less. This pigs poor management philosophy combined with budget cuts, to include piss-poor workers compensation for injuries, multitier retirement system, a mass exodus of staff and the response time for a call was close to 9 minutes. Almost 2000 calls for service in 24 hours and patrol has no time for self initiative activity. Burglary detectives numbering at as low as 2 for a city of almost a million people. Nothing but hate and negative reactions from the civilians that they serve. And if you screw up you may get criminally prosecuted and spend the rest of you life in prison.

    Do some people get hired by PD that shouldn’t sure. But you might be surprised when I say that in my opinion many of the Command Staff are a huge part of the problem. You want better police service the stop cutting the budget, they need more; staff, support personnel, more training, along more training, Command staff need to push back when City council wants to make cuts. I would be willing to say that every test taker, command staff, were studying either college courses, or studying for advancement instead of doing their job as a police officer. Frankly, that’s crap, don’t even get me started on the lack of ethics thats just the beginning.

  24. San Jose PD started to go down hill when Chief Rob Davis took over.  His motto was do more with less.  This piss poor management philosophy combined with budget cuts, to include piss-poor workers compensation  for injuries, multitier retirement  system, a mass exodus of staff and the response time for calls was close to 9 minutes, which was ridiculous compared to late 90’s of 4 minutes.  Almost 2000 calls for service  in 24 hours and patrol has no time for self initiative  activity.  Burglary  detectives numbering at as low as 2 for a city of almost  a million people.  Nothing but hate and negative reactions from the civilians that the PD serves.  And if you screw up you may get criminally prosecuted and spend the rest of you life in prison.

    Do some people get hired by PD’s that shouldn’t,  sure.  But you might be surprised when I say that in my opinion many of the Command Staff are a huge part of the problem.  You want better police services, stop cutting the budget, they need more; staff, support personnel,  more training, a lot more training,  Command staff need to push back when City council wants to make cuts.  I would be willing to bet that every test taker, command staff, were studying either college courses,  or studying for advancement instead of doing their job as a police officer.  Frankly, that’s crap, studying instead of doing your job is timesheet fraud. don’t even get me started on the lack of ethics thats just the beginning.

  25. Mr. Agarwal’s residence was no ordinary burglary, for the following reasons.
    — It took place in the evening. I suspect that 99% of residential burglaries occur during the daytime, when residents are less likely to be out and street noises are more apt to be ignored by neighbors.
    — Burglars seldom wear masks (even during pandemics); if the masks seen in the video were anything other than the type mandated by our benevolent government they were the masks of robbers, not burglars. The distinction is significant: robbers are prepared to forcefully take from people, burglars want to covertly take from places.
    — Burglars almost never come in groups; pairs sometimes, but other than reckless and idiotic teens, almost never more than two. This group may well have been home invaders, armed and very dangerous.
    — The high value of the items taken and unconcern regarding alarms suggests prior knowledge, perhaps via hired help, loose lips, or a rotten relative.

    Regarding the capabilities of the police, the public’s acquiescence to drastic reductions in the readiness and necessary political support of law enforcement has crippled local police. Effective agencies require the best available staffing, yet they must now prioritize qualifications that have no role in increasing their effectiveness. How comforted is Mr. Argawal knowing that despite being unable to solve his crime or protect his neighborhood, his police department is aggressive in its recruitment of transsexuals, pint-sized women, and anyone else credentialed by Diversity, Inc.?

    Police agencies must be aggressive in the use of their lawful — but rigidly limited — authority to stop, identify, and question people as they move about, yet the public has lent its support to the persecution of officers whose dedication to duty and lousy luck draw them into engineered, career-ruining political quagmires. Thus, stops are not made, criminals move about with impunity, the crime rate soars, and police chiefs brag about diversity as they primp for double-dipping opportunities.

    I hate to even think that anyone deserves to be victimized by the criminal element, but when the good majority joins hands with society’s miscreants to demonize, demoralize, and basically disarm their police officers, deserves becomes a most tempting word. The public has stood by while the jackals with majority support have neutered local police agencies while turning federal law enforcement into a Gestapo-like monster that, like Mr. Argawal’s criminals, shows no hesitation to invade the privacy, persecute, and otherwise victimize the innocent.

  26. I recently saw a documentary film on vigilantism that’s taken hold in Mexico. 20,000 good armed citizens took on a big bad drug cartel that the Federalizes wouldn’t deal with and wiped them out in about 6 months.
    Thing were peaceful till the government arrested a bunch of those citizens and then a new cartel moved back in.
    The most terrifying words you will ever hear,
    “We are from the Government, and we are here to help you!”
    Ronald Reagan