Bevy of burglars behind recent break-ins

A team of burglars may be working together to knock on doors of homes, ambush empty houses and grab every valuable item they can find, Peninsula police are warning.

Foster City police are working with local authorities to locate the burglar “associates” believed to be responsible for six to eight home break-ins during the last several months in Foster City alone, said Capt. Matt Martell.

“I don’t believe it’s just us; I wouldn’t be surprised if these people are conducting burglaries elsewhere,” said Martell, who said he was not at liberty to disclose the other cities in which the associates are suspected of committing burglaries.

The burglars are believed to be working together because they operate in the same manner, Martell said. Typically, a single or small group of suspects will knock on doors to check if anyone is home and peer through windows at the side of the house around lunchtime, he said. If all is clear, they will break in or use unlocked windows to go inside, he said.

They then ransack the house, grabbing items like jewelry, laptops and anything else they can carry quickly and throw into backpacks before making their escape, Martell said.

Martell said the team could be switching units, with one set of two or three people committing burglaries one day and a different duo or trio the next.

Foster City investigators received a break in the case when Redwood City police booked Washington native Christopher Bates for allegedly using a crowbar or some other tool to break into numerous units at Bair Island Mini Storage in early July, said Redwood City Detective Ashley Osborne. Bates, who had an outstanding warrant for burglary out of Washington, was tied to the spike in Foster City break-ins, Osborne said.

Bates had at least one accomplice with him during the burglary but police have been unable to identify him, Osborne said.

Martell said they have two suspected burglary associates in custody and are looking for the rest.

In neighboring San Mateo, a man broke into a family’s home and an 18-year-old woman found him in her room, lying face down in a push-up position in mid-July, authorities said. He then jumped out the bedroom window.

That same day, there were three attempted home burglaries on the same San Mateo block, the police said.

Burlingame police Capt. Mike Matteucci said his city, situated north of San Mateo, has not experienced an increase in home burglaries lately. Belmont, which neighbors San Mateo, Foster City and Redwood City, has not had a spike, either, said Dan DeSmidt, a police captain there.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

By the numbers

Burglar “associates” hit mid-to-southern Peninsula

6-8: Recent Foster City home burglaries linked to them

2: Team members arrested

2: Different Peninsula cities to catch team members

2: States where one alleged team member committed burglaries (California, Washington)

0: Instances involving violence

Source: Foster City, Redwood City police

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