News

Another driveway armed robbery Thursday night

Incident is the second driveway armed robbery within a week in central Palo Alto

Palo Alto police report that an armed robber held up two persons who had just pulled into a driveway in the 400 block of Marion Avenue, near Waverley Street, just before 9 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 16).

A man approached and pointed a handgun at them while they still were in the car, demanding property, police reported in a press release issued within two hours of the robbery.

The victims handed over a wallet, cash and credit cards. They were not injured. One victim is a Palo Alto resident, and the second lives in a neighboring city, police reported.

They said the suspect got into a vehicle waiting at Waverley and Marion, and the vehicle drove off north on Waverley toward Oregon Expressway. The vehicle was described as a white, older, four-door Honda Accord.

The suspect was described as black, in his 20s, tall and thin, with short hair, wearing a dark jacket and dark pants.

Police said the robbery "may or may not be connected to other recent robberies in the area."

One recent robbery was on Saturday (Dec. 11) when a woman parked in her driveway in the 900 block of El Cajon Way and got out of her car. A man came up behind her and grabbed her purse, then ran off, leaving the area in a dark-colored four-door car.

The robber was described as black with short hair, between 25 and 45 years old, and about 6 feet tall with a medium build. He was wearing a black T-shirt and dark pants.

El Cajon Way is on the northerly side of Oregon Expressway and east of Louis Road, which Marion Way is a block south of Oregon at Waverley street, west of Middlefield Road.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Police Department at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org, or anonymous voicemails and text messages can be sent to 650-383-8984.

-- Palo Alto Online staff

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2010 at 1:39 am

>>Police said the robbery "may or may not be connected to other recent robberies in the area."

What the hell does this mean? How many other possibilities are there other than "may or may not be related"?

Anyway, glad nobody got hurt. Did you guys hear about that shooting incident at the Florida school board meeting? I sure hope there is nobody in Palo Alto as idiotic as that stupid old woman who tried to stop the gunman by hitting him with a 2 pound purse, and nearly got herself shot in the process. What I mean by that is when somebody pulls a gun on you, just do what he says. You can't cancel your stolen credit cards if you get shot and die in the process...


Like this comment
Posted by An Armed Citizenry is a Protected Citizenry
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 17, 2010 at 6:27 am

Imagine if every illegally armed robber wasn't sure if he or she was holding up a legally armed citizen...

Oh, ...forgot, I am supposed to hit my 911 on my cell while being robbed, and wait for the police to arrive to protect me.


Like this comment
Posted by highbeams
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 17, 2010 at 7:22 am

Here's one idea - as I've been coming home at night, I've been using my high beams as I get close to my home to get a better look around to see if anyone is hiding around my house. I'm not suggesting you leave them on all the time - I just give them a little flick here and there. Also, there were no other cars around, so I wasn't blasting any other drivers.
Stay safe.


Like this comment
Posted by turn on the lights
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2010 at 9:22 am

I think it is time for the city to turn the street lights up again. They seem to have turned them down to half strength a few years ago. Brighter street lights will make it easier to see what is going on around you.


Like this comment
Posted by close to robbery
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2010 at 9:54 am

I walked by this in the dark by myself last night just after the police arrived. I will be more careful in the future! This has also happened recently in Menlo Park.
The police can't be everywhere at once - none of us can afford to pay the kind of municipal taxes that would cover that kind of vigilance. However they are very helpful to communities who want to do smart things to help themselves.

Two Questions:
Why the upturn in robberies?
-The economy is one factor in the sudden upturn - the lack of jobs at any level trickles down to the poorest and least educated, who often work for the people who just lost their job.
-We are disconnected (in some cases) from our neighborhoods and don't really know "belongs", and therefore don't watch out for each other.

How to protect ourselves?
-Long term: Help (on an ongoing basis) the right causes that address root causes of poverty and crime.
-Short term: Community gatherings to make neighbors aware of
a. who lives nearby, and what is normal for your house (teenagers coming and going at night) and what is not (Vans being loaded up with stuff in your driveway) and when you are on vacation.

b. Community watch programs encouraging people to notify police of suspicious activity

c. Signage about alarms and cameras (this is a proven deterrent in commercial and residential property)

d. Dogs - that annoying barking dog of your neighbors may be protecting you without you realizing it! Give him a treat this Christmas.


Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Triple El
on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:22 am

I live in the neighborhood where the woman was robbed on El Cajon Way. She had just returned from Safeway, Midtown and saw an African-American man running. Here's the story: Web Link

Police speculate that she was followed home because criminals look for women to follow home and then rob them. So watch out for cars following you as you are driving home.

I agree that our streets are too dark.

Don't blame our police. They cannot be everywhere every second. The police responded to her phone call very, very quickly. And the PAPD has to endure a lot of condescension/rudeness from Palo Altans. They risk their lives for us and should be appreciated, not insulted.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonimous
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:48 am

We should start to resist to robberies. Otherwise, we are inviting this upon ourselves and it is just a matter of time until something really bad happens.

It is ridiculus to think that these robberies are not connected. It could be one organization but even if not, they see how simple it is and they keep coming.

Just to remind you that in all the situations that the victim resisted, the robbers fled. These are mostly not crazy people - they know what they are doing.

The police can't be everywhere but should be more effetive. Instead of spending too much time on giving minor tickets, they should be out there in the streets more looking for suspects.


Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Triple El
on Dec 17, 2010 at 11:00 am

@Anonimous: the victim of the El Cajon robbery did resist and screamed loudly but her purse was taken anyway.

I challenge you to join the police force - they need more officers. And then you can see the other side and be a recipient of ungrateful residents. Sure, it's easy to criticize behind your computer.


Like this comment
Posted by PolicySage
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2010 at 11:13 am

The only way to control these strong arm robbers is to increase PAPD presence in residential communities by patrols, of course these days in police cars. Even the high likelihood that a police car might show up is a deterrent.
This means shaving off administrative and paperwork requirements to allow officers to be where they ought to be -- out on their "beat" in the community.
As Sir Robert Peel observed more than a century ago: "The constabulary is part of the community, and the community enclose the constabulary."


Like this comment
Posted by Armed
a resident of University South
on Dec 17, 2010 at 11:33 am


To "An armed citizenry is a protected citizenry":

I COULDN'T AGREE MORE!!! SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUN SHOPS!

If the criminals are the only ones who have weapons, we're all doomed to victim status. Think about it...


Like this comment
Posted by Pro Police
a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

@ Anonimous: Clearly you know nothing about police work. You automatically think that if the police let minor traffic violations go, then more serious crimes such as robberies will decrease. While the PAPD is a proactive police department (meaning they have the time and resources to go out looking for crime, something you probably did not know), it is very hard to stumble upon a serious crime in progress. The crime at hand also occurred just before 9:00 pm on a Thursday night which means there were not very many cars on the road. The police most likely made it to the scene within 3 minutes of receiving the call, which is a pretty good response time. You can sit at your desk and criticize the police all you want, but until you are actually in a patrol car then you have no idea what you are saying.

@ Neighbor: Thank you for supporting the police, you are correct in every manner.

@ PolicySage: The police cannot simply "shave off" administrative paperwork. There is certain paperwork that must be filled out for proper legal reasons. Also, the majority of the police officers do their paperwork in the field to be readily available to answer calls for service.


Like this comment
Posted by evenso
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Dec 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm

even so, police still unnecesary profiling of certain racial types. profiling wont end ,then ''crime'' wont end. you get it or you dont. nature will eradicate racial haters who allow police to harass certain people.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter K. Mueller
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Every day there is something in the paper. Not so long ago we had hardly any crime at all. It almost seems like there is an organization of some kind behind these to train the robbers. My daughter was robbed like this walking to a neighbor's house last week in a quiet residential neighborhood in Oakland. Same pattern.

So now us potential victims have to train and organize to oppose it effectively with minimal personal risk to make it more costly and difficult for the robbers and more protective for the victims. Several ways to enhance prevention & protection are available. Some have been mentioned by other commentators.

It's time for neighborhoods to establish mutual protection via talks with individuals from the police and elsewhere having relevant knowledge and experience.


Like this comment
Posted by Jared Bernstein
a resident of University South
on Dec 17, 2010 at 2:15 pm

A confrontational hold-up is pretty scary. So emotions run high. The Palo Alto Police and Fire Depts have an amazingly fast response rate (or so it seems to me).
I just want to thank the Weekly for linking maps to the stories.

THANKS.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Dec 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm

We need to face the fact that our homes, streets, shops, and entire town were designed and built in an era when there was far less crime, and general attitudes about right and wrong were stronger. The physical environment we live in today wasn't set up to protect us in times like these. That's part of our town's charm, but it can also lull us into a feeling that danger is as far away as it was half a century ago. Since we can't rebuild everything to be more secure, even if we wanted to, our behavior has to change; we need to act more cautiously -- and yes, be ready to defend ourselves if a criminal leaves us no other choice.


Like this comment
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm

@Anonimous:
Resist? This is exactly what the police have told us NOT to do. I'm not willing to bet my life trying to face down a robber with a gun in his hand.


Like this comment
Posted by danos
a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm

There is a common thread in these robberies, something that no one dares to mention in public, myself included. Suffice to say that this string of robberies will almost certainly cease if police and neighbors focus their attention on certain people in certain neighborhoods at certain hours...


Like this comment
Posted by danos
a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm

evenso - what exactly are you trying to say? I've read your comment three times and honestly am not sure.

Are you for profiling, or against it?


Like this comment
Posted by Checking the rates
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm

"Every day there is something in the paper. Not so long ago we had hardly any crime at all. "

Actually, the crime rate in Palo Alto in 2009 was lower than 2005, 2006, or 2008 (obviously, the 2010 data is not yet complete): source here: Web Link

I did a quick search for more historical statistics but couldn't find anything (granted, I just spent 5 minutes on Google). My impression is that more crimes are being reported, and with online news services, they are being reported almost in real time. This gives the impression of a vast increase in crimes when in reality there may not be any.

It would be interesting to see detailed crime statistics over a longer period of time, say the past 40 years. Nationwide, violent crime has decrease substantially over that time frame.


Like this comment
Posted by Rob Tanner
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Most of these crooks are pathetic losers. Let's just hope that the next person they try to rob is packing heat, and once we have a dead mugger I think the crime will drop off. These losers aren't looking to get shot, they are looking for money to buy drugs.


Like this comment
Posted by Body checking checking the rates
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Hey just wanted to body check check your rates hard against the wall- get some facts and come back and tell us what you got instead of revealing to everybody your latest research aspirations- nobody cares! Enough obfuscation- get out of the way if you can't lend a hand, the times they are a changin!


Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Triple El
on Dec 17, 2010 at 11:13 pm

PAPD is focusing on these robberies. There are many squad cars staked out in our area tonight, past many residents' bedtimes. Thanks PAPD!


Like this comment
Posted by ??
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 18, 2010 at 7:12 am

"Thanks PAPD???"

If they aren't stopping this, they aren't doing their job.


Like this comment
Posted by Checking the rates
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 18, 2010 at 7:44 am

"Enough obfuscation- get out of the way if you can't lend a hand, the times they are a changin!"

Did you not see the link to the crime rate in Palo Alto since 2005? I'm sorry you don't consider that a contribution of facts.


Like this comment
Posted by Checking the rates
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 18, 2010 at 7:50 am

Guess what, the link I provided earlier also has links to more data:

Here's the crime rate compared with neighboring cities since 1999: Web Link

This shows that the crime rate was even higher from 1999-2004 (although you could argue that it's all within statistical fluctuation).


Like this comment
Posted by quincy
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 18, 2010 at 2:39 pm

there is a you tube of a man being shot off camera by a cop. american indian john t. williams. sadistic racist cops. drop dead nazis.


Like this comment
Posted by danos
a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2010 at 11:30 am

"there is a you tube of a man being shot off camera by a cop. american indian john t. williams. sadistic racist cops. drop dead nazis."

- comments like this don't even make sense.


Like this comment
Posted by Guy in Fairmeadow
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 19, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I have the highest respect for PAPD, and I think as Palo Alto residents, we should report any abnormal activities in our neighborhood. PAPD is very good in connecting the dots and figuring out the patterns, but we all need to chip in with info, helps...


Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Compared to most police forces, PAPD is doing quite well. It is simply impossible for the police to stop all the crimes. I am certainly concerned, as there were two armed robbery in my neighborhood in the last two months!!

Perhaps, we should learn from the small town called Kennesaw in Georgia. Firearm ownership is mandatory for all households in Kennesaw since 1982. The crime rate there has been extremely low. And, no single resident of Kennesaw has been involved in a fatal shooting - as a victim, attacker or defender. Why? The crooks would rather go to the next town than risk their own lives!! As proved by the history, gun control only increased the crime rate - not decrease. Just look at Chicago! Bad guys never need a permit to get a gun. Good guys like most of us need the right to carry concealed weapons, which is currently banned!


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

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