News

Strong-arm robberies hit Palo Alto streets again

Police warn of increase in thefts and robberies as holiday season deepens

Robbers snatched valuables from two people in Palo Alto Saturday and Monday evenings, adding to a string of incidents on city streets in recent months in which pedestrians have been accosted for their wallets or merchandise. Both victims were approached from behind, according to Palo Alto police.

A 31-year-old woman was approached in the parking lot behind Borders Bookstore on Monday, Dec. 6, at 9:34 p.m. by a man described as Pacific Islander and between the ages of 18 and 30. The suspect pushed the woman off balance and pulled her purse from her shoulder. He was last seen running toward Hamilton Avenue, then westbound.

The victim was not injured. The suspect is described as tall and thin and wearing a white or gray hooded sweatshirt and dark jeans.

In the incident on Saturday, Dec. 4, a 14-year-old boy was attacked in the Embarcadero Road Caltrain undercrossing at 5:25 p.m.

The victim was holding his bicycle with his left hand while walking and was checking his iPhone with his right hand when the robber approached from behind and snatched the phone out of the youth's hand and pushed the victim away with his left hand.

The robber ran into Town and Country Village shopping center. Numerous police officers tried to find the suspect but were unable to locate him in the crowded mall, police Sgt. Wayne Benitez said.

The suspect is described as a young Latino male, 5-feet, 6-inches tall and 150 pounds. He wore a black hooded sweatshirt, black ski mask and black pants, Benitez said.

Police are asking for the public's help in apprehending the suspects. Anyone with information about the two robberies can call the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413 or make an anonymous tip at Paloalto@tipnow.org.

Police also strongly urge the public not to take heroic actions or to chase or fight off the robbers. In several previous incidents, victims were approached by robbers who brandished guns. Some of the victims fought off the suspects.

"If you find that you are the unfortunate victim of a robbery, please cooperate with the suspect's demands," Lt. Sandra Brown said.

Benitez said shoppers should be vigilant during the holiday season.

"So many people are preoccupied with shopping that they forget about personal safety," he said. Police have already taken two calls from people who left their credit cards on restaurant tables. Within minutes, the cards were gone and were being used, he said.

"Most people don't know their account numbers, so they wait until they get home. By then, the thieves have wreaked havoc. They immediately use the card at Stanford Shopping Center or Fry's and go on shopping sprees until the card is declined," he said.

Benitez said the season is still young and ripe for crimes of opportunity. Shoppers should not be lulled into a false sense of security by putting purchases into their vehicle trunks.

Watchful thieves see potential victims open their trunks. When the shoppers then return to the mall to continue shopping, the thieves break in and steal the merchandise, he said.

Many of those purchases are electronic items that are highly lucrative for criminals, he said.

"People really need to be aware of their surroundings. There are bad people out there.

"When you are out shopping, put the packages in your trunk and go home," he said.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by George K.
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 7, 2010 at 10:49 am

Town and Country has so much to offer: great food & cafes, and unique gifts. Little did I know it was also the central hideout for Palo Alto's criminal elite.

But seriously, if you're walking around paying more attention to your smartphone than your environment, you're putting yourself at risk. Stay alert.


Like this comment
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2010 at 10:51 am

Unbelievable. This used to be so very rare in PA.
Seems like it's really unsafe to walk around here now.
What can we do?


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2010 at 11:14 am

Sarah, it's not rare, unfortunately. During the holidays, as far back as I can remember, Palo Alto has had crime problems, especially downtown and at Stanford Shopping Center. They're perfect places for the predators to look for prey. If the cops did foot patrols, it might actually help.


Like this comment
Posted by Worried Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 7, 2010 at 11:16 am

What is PAPD doing? The security situation is just getting worse. I agree the residents have to be careful and stay alert. But the police also needs to catch these criminals and get them off the street. More watchful cops will surely help averting incidents like this.


Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2010 at 11:35 am

I used to shop quite a bit on University but -- since I am disabled and since this uptick in crime -- I now feel like an easy target on PA streets.

Perhaps the PAPD should reassign personnel from parking ticket/revenue generation --- and concentrate on maintaining an obvious presence to prevent robberies and assaults.


Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 7, 2010 at 11:36 am

Sarah: Unfortunately, this stuff happens pretty much *everywhere*

no name: The culprits also come from everywhere, including PA. Your remark was disgusting.


Like this comment
Posted by Anne
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 7, 2010 at 11:53 am

Too bad, most merchants don't require picture IDs to match credit cards when people buy expensive items. It may reduce quick money channels for robbers.


Like this comment
Posted by brighter lights
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 7, 2010 at 11:53 am

Most of these street crimes occur on streets or footpaths with poor lighting. Can the city please turn up the street lights, at least during the evening when there is a lot of foot traffic around town. Those new LED street lights are supposed to be very efficient, so the electricity cost should not be significant.

I hate when the cops say to avoid streets with poor lighting. Why doesn't the city just improve the lighting???


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 7, 2010 at 11:59 am

I am speechless at this outrage. I often go walking on the streets of Palo Alto, and now I am supposed to be OK with not feeling safe or being able to protect myself in my own home town? Maybe the word "outrage" is used to much these days to have any effect but this is totally unacceptable.

What can be done? For everyone so many of these incidents how many are called off at the last second because the perpetrator sees a police officer or something else in the parking lot.

Why are we not at the very least putting video cameras all over downtown?

Do we have police decoys out?

Are we stopping people in local areas that lock suspicious and just taking their names?

Maybe all of this sounds silly, or undoable, but let's hear some better ideas? We get all up in arms (rightfully so) about people who commit suicide, but when something like this rash of robberies happens we should be that much more active in demanding some kind of action.


Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 7, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Wait a minute - "stop people who look suspicious and take their name"?
I remember some years ago one of my sons who happens to have very dark skin was followed by a clerk from a music store on University and stopped a block or so away because he looked suspicious and he was carrying strings for his violin (which he had purchased from a different clerk).
Arrested (sort of) for walking while looking black. Is that what we want?


Like this comment
Posted by Too easy
a resident of University South
on Dec 7, 2010 at 12:22 pm

"If you find that you are the unfortunate victim of a robbery, please cooperate with the suspect's demands," Lt. Sandra Brown said.

I understand why the police take this position, but if I were a thief, it would be music to my ears! Just lie down and take it seems to be the underlying message. Personally, I think it's time to fight back! Otherwise, we become pretty easy pickings...


Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 7, 2010 at 12:32 pm

@Paul: I agree that 'no name's' comment could have been expressed in a different way, but the truth of the matter is that there is a long history of EPA clashing with PA. That puts PAPD into a tight spot when working up a solution to attacking the problem. The PD has their hands tied. They are damned if they do, damned it they don't.

Most important is to try to go out with other people and perhaps avoid the back parking lots and other dark parking areas. Or park under City Hall, I believe they have camera's there.


Like this comment
Posted by me
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Be suspicious of anyone wearing hooded sweatshirts. most or all criminals wear them.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 7, 2010 at 1:08 pm

> Arrested (sort of) for walking while looking black. Is that what we want?

No, and that is not what I said either.

Though, I have to tell you the other day I was talking along Homer St. away from downtown and a black guy dressed in all dark clothes was walking towards me down the street. He was walking fast and determined, what I would call quiet and stealthily, and I was sort of preparing for some kind of situation. I was looking right at him, hoping to just meet his eyes and say hello or something like I do with most people I walk by, but he would not look at me and barrelled right past me.

You can say whatever you want about that story, but I would have been just as nervous had anyone walked by me in that manner.

We have lost the ability to maintain a community and politeness, and substituted for it this kind of foolish political correctness where any opportunity is taken to attack someone who is trying to start a reasonable converstation over something important.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2010 at 1:14 pm

@Enough - if you pay attention to the stats instead of your own bias, you will find that criminals in Palo Alto come from many areas, including EPA. Street criminals are lured to areas where lots of people are spending money. Palo Alto has several of those areas and it's an easy city to get in & out of. Having lived here for a long time, do you want to know how many non-EPA residents come here to commit crimes? Puhlenty, including addicts coming here to buy their drugs. That's the thing about criminals - they are motivated, think differently when we do & they go where they can get their needs met, and those areas depend on their need. Increasing police presence where shoppers are is a great detriment.


Like this comment
Posted by Two jokers
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 7, 2010 at 1:15 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by racial profiling
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 7, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Everyone is calling for racial profiling when the criminals are non-white. When the suspect is white, such as the Thanksgiving rape on Alma Street, then everyone is quiet for some reason.


Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 7, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I think they should be careful about advising compliance with criminals who surprise us. It is true you should value your life above your possessions but that is not to say there are not a myriad of actions that should be taken NOW to reduce these incidences. Lots of ideas I agree with have already been suggested such as: brighter lighting, police presence/foot patrols, local citizens KNOWING promptly about where crimes/attempted crimes have occurred and if there are some methods the police, city, local community can ALL let it be known we don't accept our citizens being knocked down, attacked, robbed, whatever then some criminals WILL get the message and move on. Yeah, one can't prevent it everywhere but that is no reason to say "ok, well" and increase the chance that any of us in our routine lives may become an unfortunate victim!


Like this comment
Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 7, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Forget the mace. Tag 'em with fluorescent orange paint. Then scream and run!


Like this comment
Posted by PC
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm

The individuals who engage in these activities are "civil conduct-challenged", the result of how badly society has treated them in the past. They need our help.

No matter how brutish they may behave, these people need our sympathy and understanding. In fact, there should be more government programs to reach out and listen to them, to give them subsidies and other benefits.

Some might call them brutal thugs. Sure, they may push old ladies to the ground at times without thinking twice. In reality, however, they just need some training in how not to hit people upside the head to steal their purses and wallets. I ask you, is this too much to ask of society?


Like this comment
Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Dec 7, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

The following comments were moved from a duplicate thread:

Posted by Rod, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, 4 hours ago

Is it time for police walking beats?

-----------------------------------------------------------

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, 3 hours ago

'Tis the season to be robbin'...& 'tis the season for police to be walkin'

They oughta hit the streets because these types of crimes have been happening during the holidays downtown for years.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Posted by foot patrols, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, 3 hours ago

I agree that we need more cops on foot or bicycle patrol. If the city is trying to encourage people to walk and bicycle, then the bike and foot paths need to be patrolled by the cops. Many paths are not visible to cops in patrol cars.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 1 hour ago

As ought to be patently obvious - it is impossible to create security over such a large area ... we would do much better to create a society where we do not have such problems. They do exist, but there is not even any discussion of what they are and how to do it.

An interesting phenomenon is Roseto, Pennsylvania, written about in Malcolm Gladwell's book, "Outliers" where there is a community and people of all classes are healthier and happier.

Our society has taken the cog in the wheel factory approach, where some of us are lucky to be very rich, and others are able to scramble and find a niche to serve the rich, and others are just cogs for the machine to be used and tossed away ... and why we accept this is a real mystery to me.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I personally would feel a lot safer if we had surveillance cameras here as many European countries do - particularly in high foot traffic areas. Better lighting would also help.

I think that the cameras and better lighting would be such a deterrant that it would make downtown safer.

Not sure about the mace, but an old fashioned police style (or soccer style) whistle to blow in such an emergency would be a great idea. We have to be more personally vigilant.


Like this comment
Posted by cameras
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm

How common are cameras in Europe, besides in the parts of England that are subject to Catholic terrorist attacks? Cameras are very expensive, especially if they are going to be monitored in real time.

I'm all for improving lighting around town, though. Our streets have gotten very dark in recent years. And improving sidewalk lighting helps against the biggest danger: cars.


Like this comment
Posted by Merchants-Do-The-Right-Thing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm

This sort of thing happens in downtown most every Christmas. Why can't the "Business District" (which is already sucking down "member's money" hire a couple guards (with or without weapons, but definitely with radios) to walk some of these dark parking lots. It couldn't hurt to maybe rent a "golf cart" sort of thing, add a couple high intensity lights, and have it drive around these parking lots from dark (about 5:00PM until maybe 10:30PM). The PA PD can only do so much. The merchants are making a lot of extra money during Q.4, so why not step up to the line and reinvest a few dollars in community safety, which would benefit everyone.

Sad .. one only wonders what the Chamber of Commerce, and BDA and the various "Assessment District" are thinking about when it comes to their having some financial responsibility in providing for community safety?


Like this comment
Posted by Bruce Li
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 7, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Come on people, get real, why blame the lights, the police, the Chamber, blah, blah, blah....The crooks that are responsible for these robberies are the only ones to blame! The police are doing their best and making personal safety suggestions. Palo Alto is a very safe place to live, walk, conduct business and enjoy!

Let's just encourage each other to be aware of your surroundings, wherever you are. Be careful and report any suspicious activity to the police immediately!!!


Like this comment
Posted by profiled
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 7, 2010 at 6:36 pm

some people have been profiled to oblivion. they dont have much sympathy for ''police''.


Like this comment
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2010 at 7:00 pm

If you are, poor, drug or alcohol addicted or just plain desperate do you steal within your own community where everybody is as poor as you or do you go where the money is. Answer obvious. As Eddie Sutton replied when asked why he broke into bank safes: "because that's where the money is."


Like this comment
Posted by silly
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 7, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Why the sudden crime problems? Remember the budget cuts the city imposed on the Police? Seems we forgot....


Like this comment
Posted by Pacific Islander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2010 at 7:53 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I agree with another post that Palo Altans are too distracted by too much technology and it is wreaking havoc on their attention to personal safety or even knowing where they are at. I find it very distressing living in a time when people are so out of touch with their surroundings and their humanity (how many kids growing up here can actually have a real conversation in real time while making eye contact with the person they are conversing with????? Hmmmmmm.......intereting times we live in!


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2010 at 8:14 pm

If profiling is gonna be done on this thread, let's all be honest: ALL of these crimes are being committed by people w/one thing in common: they are ALL male.


Like this comment
Posted by all young males
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 7, 2010 at 8:45 pm

All the suspects are young males, including the Thanksgiving rape suspect. I have to admit that anytime I see a young male approaching me on a poorly lit street, I do get apprehensive. Does not matter what race. I feel safer seeing older non-white men on the street than younger white men.

If the cops are going to profile anyone, they should check the IDs of all younger males. Being young is not a protected group, so civil rights organizations should not complain. Maybe kids will complain, but they don't vote, so no one will care.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 7, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I'm always puzzled by the admonition to "cooperate with demands," after all, that was the standing advice for dealing with hijackers until 9/11. Maybe we need to be less passive and more active in our own defense? If every now and again a criminal got wrecked in the commission of the crime, the costs wouldn't be so asymmetric in their favor and they might think twice before taking what's not theirs . . .


Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 7, 2010 at 9:08 pm

@ racial profilin:

My husband is white and resembles (somewhat) the description of the Thanksgiving rape suspect. My husband is tall (about 6' tall), white, brown hair with a trim goatee on his chin. Of course, my husband's hair is not short (it is a bit long) and he was watching a movie with me at the time.

Of course, there are at least 150 other guys that I have seen in Palo Alto who fit the description too.

I asked my husband what it feels like to be looked at suspiciously. He said that it doesn't bother him. He said that he would EXPECT a police officer to stop him if he felt that he fit the description. After all, he has nothing to fear.

There is a natural profiling that takes place in the minds of most people. I suspect that none of us would walk down the streets of East Palo Alto, Oakland or Richmond while wearing our purses, a diamond ring and holding an iPod. Why? We understand crime statistics.

The criminals in Palo Alto aren't confined to young Hispanic, African American or Pacific Island males. However, they are a large portion of the statistics.

When my husband and I walk to California Ave., we pass through Bowden Park. Many times, there are some poorly dressed young-to-middle aged Hispanic men who sit there during the day with cell phones and bicycles. They act very suspiciously as we walk by. As a Hispanic woman, I wouldn't feel "safe" if my husband wasn't with me. When I see these men when I am walking alone, I am extremely cautious.

Is this "racial profiling?"

Well, I would probably feel uneasy no matter what race or ethnicity of such men who hang around parks on bicycles during the day. It just so happens that these are typically young Hispanic men who whisper into cell phones when I walk by. However, I understand the demographics of Palo Alto...including the town's crime statistics as reported by the PAPD.

I understand that we shouldn't "profile" people based solely upon the color of their skin. However, I also understand the demographics of the town...including the demographics of crime statistics. There is a gray line between keeping residents safe. Such stereotyping of possible deviance is often based upon statistics (or the perception of those statistics). If a police officer is suspicious of someone, it doesn't hurt for them to politely approach someone and honestly tell them the reasons they are a bit cautious.


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Posted by Commander McBragg
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I'm a white guy, and I've been stopped on the street and questioned by the police looking for a burglary suspect. The cop seemed angry with me and told me not to leave town. I thought it was funny because how would he know if I left town, what's he going to do, follow me around 24/7? I ignored it and no one seemed to notice. It seemed to me that all they were doing was trying to solve a crime. I've often been watched in stores by clerks making sure I didn't pocket anything. Big deal. Some minority people seem to have a fantasy that every white guy breezes through life never being treated like a suspect. The fact is, sometimes you happen to resemble the suspect, and you can end up being questioned, no matter who you are.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm

McBragg, your post made me laugh. Yeah, how would the cop know if you moseyed over to Mt. View to grab a beer, or to San Bruno for, I dunno, whatever one does in San Bruno. Hilarious. It's easy to take being profiled in stride if you're a white man. It's when it happens & you're not white that it's a problem a lot of the time. I know many non-white men, local people, who've been jacked up by the cops a number of times. These aren't criminals. These are working guys, some quite educated, going about their business. There is a marked different between how they are treated compared to white people in this area. It's pretty disturbing. The point I made in my earlier post was in response to people assuming all criminals come from EPA. So my point was hey, if we're gonna profile, let's profile what really matters - that these are all MEN; none of these suspects are female. Men commit the majority of street crimes & violent crimes. How come no one on these threads goes on & on about that? It's instantly NIMBY weirdness, especially when surrounding cities don't do that. So I say profile away - focusing on the gender. After all, if Lynn Johnson said she was going to have her dept. jack up everyone who matched suspect descriptions, incl the white suspect, hey, no problem. Instead, she focused on African American men.


Like this comment
Posted by Sonny
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 8, 2010 at 7:32 am

Jim H
It was Willy Sutton who uttered that phrase, not Eddie Sutton. But more to the point: Do any of the posters remember when the topic of surveillance cameras elicited an outcry of "invasion of privacy?" Now we are, not only complacent, but, actually demanding more cameras. What happened? This question has plagued me for some time. When did we give up our right to privacy for security? Was it after 9/11? I would like to know? Please reply.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2010 at 8:01 am

We should stop calling this racial profiling but suspect description profiling.

There was a time in my life when I was fitting the demographic of a problem in a community. I fully expected to be treated with suspicion and since I had no fears it didn't upset me at all. In fact, I was pleased that the police were doing their best to find the real guilty parties.

Truly innocent people have nothing to fear. If we are doing something that could be seen as suspicious, hanging around for no reason even if we happen to have good reason for it, then it is good policing to be questioned. It is the difference of how we act when being questioned that makes the difference of how the police will take the next step.


Like this comment
Posted by PAMom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 8, 2010 at 9:17 am

Why doesn't PAPD do foot patrols on University like they do in downtown San Jose? They could also do outside drive bys of Stanford Shopping Center. Maybe they should refocus during the holidays rather than shooting at speeders with their radar guns or investigating costume thefts at the Childrens Theater.
We never see PAPD out being visible except on duty at Stanford games or in their cruisers. Bad guys are out on foot folks.


Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2010 at 10:02 am

Good points, PAMom...

During college, my husband worked part time as a clerk for the university police department. He told me that the police used to have specific routes that they were required to walk and drive each day while on patrol.

Just the sight of these officers put the "fear of law" in the minds of criminals and actually cut back on crime once the policy went into effect.

I would think that officers with the PAPD could drive down the well-trafficked areas at least once an hour. I police officer (or uniformed decoy) on foot on University Avenue, California Avenue and a couple of other strategic spots could be quite helpful.

Otherwise, people will continue to come from out-of-town to make the most of some quick and potentially violent crime.


Like this comment
Posted by PA Dad
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 8, 2010 at 10:35 am

We are so sensitive about profiling that more crime is the inevitable result. We can't expect the police to do their job if they can't question suspects.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 8, 2010 at 11:20 am

You are wrong about profiling, Resident. It does scare the innocent because of how they get treated, when there's a history of that w/their ethnicity, religion, etc. It's unfortunately common to not treat someone well just because they have something in common w/a suspect such as race. Innocents have been killed by police for doing nothing wrong. While that's less likely to happen in this area, I think the atavistic fear some feel is understandable. Of course there is a way to look for suspects w/out getting caught for profiling. But again, the cops on foot patrol can deter a lot of crime this time of year.


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Posted by PolicySage
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 8, 2010 at 11:53 am

Since the Home Secretary in the UK began a massive dose of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), street robberies are down significantly in areas marked as being covered by CCTV.

I regret that the possibility of this being done in Palo Alto is remote.

A final note: Please do not blame the victim. People have every right to engage in conversation with friends on their cells if they wish to do so. Their behaviour is not the issue.


Like this comment
Posted by Nick
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Cooperate with the goons, give up your Iphone. Just make sure you get an app on your smart phone that allows you or the police to track the phone once its stolen. The police will track down the criminal and you'll most likely get your property back.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm

This "profiling" argument is fallacious in my opinion.

No one likes or should have to stand being harassed for the heck of it.

I know when I was a kid, we young males during the 70's who had long hair used to regularly get pulled over or stopped while on bicycle or foot and just talked to. Always there was some crime committed in town somewhere or course. There were occasional problems with rudeness and one time a police officer claimed that we fit the profile of a local burglary and actually shoved his hands down the pants of one of my friends saying he was searching for a weapon. I witnessed that myself and I who had been basically a sheltered kid most of like could not believe such a outrageous disgusting action by a policeman. We did have police like that in the past and there is a high probability in my opinion that this kind of abuse is still with us. At that time we went directly to the Police station and reported the officer.

We have to realize that we have imperfect human beings on both sides of the law and some of them are looking for opportunities to abuse other people.

In my opinion, this kind of abuse of the public if it was taken seriously, would help people accept profiling, which makes sense to me done politely and correctly.

If when I had been stopped as a kid and questioned and treated respectfully I would have been happy to help the police. We all "should" want to help them with a difficult job, a job that protects all of us, but one or two bad apples can upset the whole society, and when there are lots of bad apples as has happened in the past in some places, for example East Palo Alto and its police corruption history in the past, then it hurts everyone.

No one gains by "mock profiling" done in order to intimidate or abuse people, but looking at people who have a low probability of being the problem just to make every appear and feel fair, makes little sense either.


Like this comment
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I would like to point out that there is another option for increasing security that does not involve more police or street light or weapons. If the management of Town and Country would just increase their private security patrols, which cost far less than trained police officers, it would go a LONG way towards providing more security for their shoppers, who might feel safer shopping there and would then spend more money there. Those guards need not be armed with anything more than a walkie-talkie, a cell phone, and a can of pepper spray. Just their presence would be enough to deter some problems, their ability to call in help would solve other problems. They need not be paid for by the city, as they could be paid out of the increased revenue stream from shoppers seeking safety.

There could also be a merchants group formed in downtown PA that hires a few similar guards, again, they are cheaper than police. When there is a problem, they summon the police if needed. Safer environment increases patronage increases income pays for patrols.

Seems to me that some time ago there was a rash of vehicle burglaries at the Stanford mall that was stopped not by the police but by the security guards. Works for me,...


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm

JustMe ... you do realize the problem spans more than Town And Country ... right? And even downtown.

Not only that but business people are not going to pay for security for people outside their stores until they see some kind of drastic problem, and even then they will ask that everyone else pay for it.

Not only that but for peanuts you want to hire security guards who will run the risk of getting hurt or killed if they actually do their jobs, and will do nothing just outside the local area where crime will move to if there are guards all around. Hiring guards like that often you get guards worse than the criminals.

Again, we get the take care of yourself mentality, and make life worse and less organized for the broader public which is what brings about this kind of crime to begin with.


Like this comment
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 8, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Anon,

I mentioned downtown, guards hired by a co-operative, didn't I?

The only "drastic problem" that will cause merchants to pony up for patrols would be a fall-off in revenue when people are afraid to shop there. Isn't that what they are facing now? I am sure they already have security in place, they may just need to beef it up. But if they want shoppers, then they need to make those shoppers feel secure.

I would never advocate that private security guards do the job of police, they are not trained or equipt for that. Instead they are the "eyes and ears" in the area, a visible presence to deter criminals. If there IS a crime being committed, their job is to summon help, fast, and not risk themselves. They are also witnesses to help the police do their jobs, providing information and details on what just happened. (A camera would also be good equipment got them.)

You could probably hire two or three security guards for the same cost of adding one police officer. It is a lower-cost but fully adaquate solution.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2010 at 3:11 pm

The discussion has gone off-course.

As I wrote earlier, assign more PA police to patrol shopping areas during the holidays. It will discourage would-be thieves from attacking pedestrians and may even catch some too.

Protect citizens -- young, old, white, black, disabled, whoever they may be -- from the criminals -- whoever they may be.


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 9, 2010 at 1:55 am

I agree we need more police patrolling on foot. Is this no longer possible due to budget cuts? And by all means, the city should install cameras. They will not only capture photos of the criminals, but perhaps act as a deterrent.

And I agree with the poster above about "description profiling." If we know most of the criminals are young men wearing hooded sweatshirts, well, let's keep a sharp eye out for them.


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Posted by Beatrice
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2010 at 2:17 pm

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD!

We are so used to a bubble of
good schools
no crime
great parks and gardens
great healthcare

that is soon going to change
overcrowded schools
overpressured kids
kids killing themselves
drugs in the MIDDLE! schools (kids recently kicked out)
libraries that are no longer relevant with streaming video
poor healthcare in diagnosis by protocol unthinking doctors

and CRIME like other affluent cities but here brought on by the unsustainable illegal immigration where kids of hardworking immigrants are discontened, illiterate and angry and join gangs.

I think Palo Alto in a decade will be unrecognizable.


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Posted by Sonny
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 9, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Beatrice,
Those were the days my friend,we thought they'd never end. I commiserate with all like posters. However, the world changed dramatically in the last decade or so> Gangster behavior has been extolled and even romanticized. Kids are no longer "just kids", rather: they are the pawns of MTV, video games and violent movies. We have no one to blame but ourselves.


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Posted by Cynthia
a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2010 at 10:27 am

Most comments on here make a lot of sense, and a lot sound "ignorant". Let me start with "anon", you were walking down a street and a "black" man came towards you walking fast! That's it? He wouldn't make eye contact with you, so of course you were in danger! White people have been walking towards me fast, not making eye-contact since I was a toddler! So I could say the same about you! You sound like a fool and a coward and a major bigot!

We are vicitms of crime more than you are, but your crimes are more relevant because you're white?

My suggestion to all who are afraid (hence the ignorant comments), go out and buy some pepper spray! That stuff is powerful and will teporarily blind a whole block of people, so you can get away.

Let's focus on the people who are cold and hungry this holiday season, black and white! I saw a woman in San Jose, sitting on the ground in front of the post office with a little baby in a stroller with a sign saying "I lost my job, help me!". I almost sat next to her with my black kids with a sign, just to see how fast someone would call the police to make "us" all leave. That's the first thing I thought when I saw her. We could use some help too, but I knew it was against the law, only if me and my black kids were sitting there. Tragic but true, admit it!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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