One of my deep and abiding passions is the police log, which, at its peak, is a truly beautiful art form within the larger school of journalism. Some papers play it straight with dull recitations pulled directly from the logbook, others occasionally stray over the line, and some delve right into the full flower of police log glory — see the sadly deceased Arcata Eye for some splendid examples.
But some of the best entries, by far, come from exclusive zip codes, because rich people have too much money and too much time on their hands and the subsequent law enforcement-related results are sometimes utterly hilarious, even when journos don't intend them to be.
They come with a bitter side, too — racial profiling and the accompanying risks are very real, and wealthy neighborhoods excel at racial panic. Behind these entries comes a tale of stark income inequality and deeply troubling schisms in society, but sometimes the best way to deal with class war is with humor.
So let's take a look at crime reports from the top ten most expensive zip codes (by median home value) in the Bay Area, a region in the country perhaps most notorious for skyrocketing real estate values and shocking income inequality. Because sometimes, the state of criminal activity can say a lot about a neighborhood.
1) San Francisco, 94123 (Median home value: $2,861,260)
Covering the Marina District and Cow Hollow, this particular zip code has sweeping views of the Bay, and it's right next to the Presidio, where all the trees hang out. It also has a great view of Lily Coit's "fire hose," if you know what I mean. (Coit had a bit of a thing for firemen, backed by a whole lot of money.)
As the subject walked to the office, the innkeeper noticed that the man appeared extremely intoxicated. For no apparent reason, the subject became hostile and verbally abusive, picking up a planter and throwing it through the office front door.
This particular sordid tale ("No Room at the Inn") has a delightfully brazen cheekiness I have to admire. Haven't we all wanted to throw a planter through a door at some point or another?
2) Tiburon, 94920 (Median home value: $2,885,148)
I think class war in Tiburon is perhaps best summed up by this nifty factoid on the city's police department home page: "Did you know the Tiburon Police Department will periodically check on your home while you're away on vacation?"
Officially, it's a public service available by request, not default, of course, but there's still something vaguely menacing about the wording.
(Incidentally, Tiburon is also home to an extremely sophisticated license plate scanning and recognition system, so don't drop by unless you want to be clocked by the local 5-0. If you think they aren't serious, take note that "suspicious circumstances" -- police speak for a situation that vaguely suggests a crime may have been committed -- tends to be the leading contender in monthly crime stats.)
3) Los Altos, 94022 (Median home value: $2,896,103)
Oct. 13, 10:57 p.m., 100 block of Garland Way: A resident called police to report teenagers racing up and down the street and a party in a nearby vacant home. Los Altos Police Sgt. Cameron Shearer said that when police responded, it appeared that high school or college-age youth had been partying in a recently sold house, leaving beer bottles behind.
4) Monte Sereno, 95030 (Median home value: $2,983,192)
A cryptically-worded passive voice entry in the police blotter occurred:
Mail tampering--On Jan. 30 at 4 p.m. on Daves Avenue in Monte Sereno. A mail tampering crime occurred.
5) Ross, 94957 (Median home value: $3,026,885)
The little town of Ross is so sleepy that it generally doesn't merit entries in any police blotters — its eight officers are primarily kept busy with traffic violations, as can be observed from the department's helpful crime mapping statistics. However, the intriguing "suspicious circumstances" does return for a guest appearance, leading one to wonder what they're up to over there.
6) Belvedere, 94920 (Median home value: $3,038,154)
Super awkward when you lose your super fancy Louis Vuitton drinking cup.
Shortly after yacht club officials called police to report the theft, they realized that it was simply a miscommunication in which Louis Vuitton officials sent a different person to pick up the trophy than the one who had dropped it off earlier in the day, according to Timothy Ballard, the head of the Corinthian Yacht Club's America's Cup committee.
7) Portola Valley, 94028 (Median home value: $3,255,885)
I smell a rat (or someone who can't keep track of her jewelry):
A pair of earrings is reported missing from a drawer in a Brookside Drive house. Deputies found no signs of forced entry and the rest of the house showed no signs of disturbance. Estimated loss: $9,000.
Then again, there's also the lady who threw brownies while inside the fire station.
8) Palo Alto, 94301 (Median home value: $3,525,837)
I'm going to let the official Palo Alto Police Twitter take this one.
9) Woodside, 94062 (Median home value: $3,890,500)
This restrained, polite remonstration comes with an air of quiet amusement:
The rear door of a storage closet failed to provide a would-be burglar with access to a house on Brookwood Road. The homeowner returned from vacation to find the storage door removed from the closet, which does not lead to the interior of the house.
10) Atherton, 94027 (Median home value: $9,026,885)
In addition to being the Bay Area's most expensive zip code, Atherton is also the most expensive in the country, and it has an infamous police log that's truly a delight to read — check out the full archives at the San Jose Mercury News. It's really hard to pick just one entry, but here's my current favorite:
A family reported being followed by a duck who resides on Tuscaloosa Avenue.
(Not, incidentally, the only duck-related incident to strike the Bay Area.)