Teen Burglar Breaks Into Home, Asks Sleeping Couple for Wifi: Police

Illustration for article titled Teen Burglar Breaks Into Home, Asks Sleeping Couple for Wifi: Police
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Police say a couple in their 60s woke up in their Palo Alto, California bedroom around midnight last Saturday to find someone looming above them wearing a mask, or possibly a black T-shirt covering their face. The intruder asked for their wifi password.


According to a city press release, one of the residents sprung to action, shoving the intruder down the hallway and out of the house. The couple then called the police, which found the suspect a block away from the house.

Police arrested the 17-year-old suspect for prowling, residential burglary, and providing false information about his identity. The police department did not reveal his name as he is a minor.

Police think the suspect entered the house from the side yard after cutting open a screen window-covering, but could not initially determine a motive. Officers say they did not find any weapons on the teen, but the resident told police that two kitchen knives had gone missing.

Officers believe this is not the only time the teen trespassed in an apparent search for wifi that evening. Someone else had called 911, reporting that around midnight last Saturday she saw a teenage male in the yard outside her bedroom window, trying to get her attention.

She and a male resident allegedly confronted the intruder, who told them he didn’t have any data left and wanted to use their wifi. They told him to leave. They didn’t call the police until the next day when the male resident noticed his bike was missing from the backyard. Security footage showed the teen had moved the bike to the front yard before going to the window to ask for wifi.

Police later found the bike near where they had arrested the suspect. Officers are recommending the District Attorney add a charge of petty theft.


[City of Palo Alto]

Former senior reporter at Gizmodo


Getting access to someone’s WiFi is a common identity theft method, so never give yours out. Asking for it in the course of another crime? I guess the death of brain cells is pretty advanced.

If your router has a guest network option, set it up to run for a couple hours when friends come over and then turn it off (newer routers have the option to turn guest networks off after a certain amount of time) - the less footprint you have, the less vulnerable you are.