A man with a semi-automatic handgun walked into Public Storage on East Bayshore Road in Palo Alto on March 2 and made off with cash and various items in what Palo Alto police said was one of three robberies that occurred in the city throughout the day.
Police received a call about the robbery at the storage business at 2047 East Bayshore just before 5 p.m. Saturday. According to the caller, a man had just walked into Public Storage, pulled out a silver semi-automatic handgun and held the store's single employee at gunpoint. Police said the robber took items from the victim, a man in his 50s, and from the business, including cash and the landline phone. He allegedly told the employee to stay on the ground before fleeing on foot.
Police said the employee waited a few minutes and then went to a nearby business and called 9-1-1. He did not see the getaway vehicle. Officers arrived at the scene minutes later but could not locate the robber.
The victim described the robber as a black man in his 20s, about 6 feet tall with a thin build and wearing a black sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head, blue jeans and dark-colored gloves. He also had an inch-long beard or goatee. Police said they are investigating this robbery's possible connection to any others that have occurred in the city since early December.
The Public Storage robbery is one of three robberies that police said occurred in Palo Alto over the span of about eight hours. The other two strong-arm robberies both occurred in downtown Palo Alto and, in one case, an arrest was made. The two downtown robberies were allegedly committed by different suspects. Police do not believe these robberies were connected to each other or to the one at Public Storage.
Police said that of the three victims in the robberies, two were unharmed while a third was treated for an injury and released at the scene.
One of the downtown robberies took place just past midnight Sunday in the City Hall parking garage, according to the police. A woman who works downtown called the police at 12:28 a.m. to tell them she had been robbed on a garage stairwell about 10 minutes prior to the call.
The victim, a woman in her 20s, was returning to her car when a man came up to her on the stairwell and placed one of his hands on the back of her neck. While grabbing her neck, he used his other hand to take cash from her rear pants pocket. He then fled on foot, police said. The woman returned to her place of employment and called the police. She was not injured.
The robber in the incident was described as a black male in his 30s, about 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing about 200 pounds, with tattoos on the side of his neck. He was wearing a black T-shirt and either a black or a dark gray beanie and had black hair in dreadlocks that hung to his lower back. Police said he did not appear to be armed.
The other downtown robbery also occurred at around midnight, in the 400 block of Lytton Avenue. Police said the victim, a woman in her 60s, approached a group of men who were standing on the sidewalk and asked if she could buy a cigarette. One of the men allegedly handed her a cigarette. When she opened her purse to get some change, the man snatched the $5 bill out of her hand and tried to run away, police said. After a few steps, he dropped the bill. Police said when the woman picked the money up, he grabbed her arm and bit her on the hand, forcing her to release the money to him. Police said he then ran away with the money south on Kipling Street.
Palo Alto police identified the man as Thomas Joseph Lewis, a 38-year-old Vallejo resident. Officers passed on the information about Lewis and the car he was driving to neighboring police agencies.
At about 2 a.m., East Palo Alto police spotted Lewis on University Avenue, near Donohoe Street in East Palo Alto. He was detained without incident until Palo Alto police arrived to interview him, police said. Police booked Lewis at the Santa Clara County Main Jail for one count of robbery. They do not believe he is connected to any other street robberies that have occurred in the city in recent weeks, including the one at City Hall.
Police announced Sunday that they are increasing patrols in the downtown area in response to these robberies while they're conducting follow-up investigations.
Anyone with information about the public-storage robbery can contact the Police Department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.
Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to email@example.com or sent via text
message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.