Teen burglar runs out of data, wakes homeowners to ask for WiFi access, Calif. cops say

A 17-year-old burglar broke into a sleeping couple’s Palo Alto home and woke them up to ask for access to their WiFi network, according to police.
A 17-year-old burglar broke into a sleeping couple’s Palo Alto home and woke them up to ask for access to their WiFi network, according to police. AP

A Palo Alto, California, couple woke up early Sunday morning to a terrifying surprise: There was a stranger in their bedroom, according to police.

It was a 17-year-old burglar, and he startled the 60-something residents awake to ask for access to their WiFi network, according to Palo Alto police. The burglar had a garment obscuring his face, the victims said.

The burglar never got WiFi access, though. The man got out of his bed and forced the burglar out of their bedroom, down the hall and out the home’s front door, according to police. The couple called police right after that, around 12:30 a.m. Neither victim was injured. All that was missing from the home were two kitchen knives, the couple told police.

Officers quickly got to the scene and arrested the suspected burglar a block away, police said.

The suspect’s identity has not been released because he is under 18, according to police. He is a Palo Alto resident and has been charged with felony residential burglary as well as misdemeanors for providing false information and prowling.

But it wasn’t the suspected prowler’s first crime of the weekend — or his first request for WiFi, according to police.

Less than an hour earlier, a woman in her 20s had spotted a 17-year-old through her bedroom window around 11:45 p.m. Saturday, according to police. He was standing in her side yard and began motioning for her to come outside and talk.

Sometimes plans don't quite work out as intended. Take a look at some would-be criminals who could have used a practice run or two.

Along with a teenager who was in the home at the time, the woman went to the side yard to speak with the 17-year-old, police said. That’s when the teen asked them for access to their WiFi network as well — explaining that he had run out of data.

No luck the first time either, though. The residents told the 17-year-old to go away, according to police, and he rode off on a bicycle.

But the residents didn’t realize until the next day that a bicycle was missing from their backyard. After looking at surveillance camera footage from the home, they realized what had happened: The teen had stolen the bike from the backyard, then left it in the front yard. Then he began motioning to the woman in her bedroom window — and when they told the 17-year-old to leave, he returned to the front yard, hopped on the stolen bike and rode off, police said.

The residents reported the theft Sunday afternoon, and officers recovered the bike near the spot where they had arrested the 17-year-old hours earlier. Police said they’re recommending prosecutors charge the teen with petty theft in that incident.

The suspected burglar had a black T-shirt wrapped around his neck beneath a sweatshirt when he was apprehended. That’s what police suspect he used to hide his face during the burglary.

An investigation into the burglary showed the suspect got into the home by cutting off a screen from an open window in the couple’s side yard, police said. A motive for the burglary remains unknown.

The stolen kitchen knives weren’t recovered, according to police.

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