Off-duty detective spots downtown robbery suspect

Alleged robber had struck up acquaintance with his victim at 7-Eleven in downtown Palo Alto

A man suspected of robbing a person he'd just befriended in downtown Palo Alto earlier this month was arrested for the crime Tuesday afternoon, police have announced.

The robbery occurred on Aug. 6, at about 11:30 p.m., in the 300 block of University Avenue. A man in his 60s reported to police that he'd just been robbed of his wallet by a man he'd met at the 7-Eleven on Waverley Street just minutes earlier. The pair had been on their way to buy a cup of coffee together, the victim told police.

Melroy Travenia has been arrested for an Aug. 6 robbery in downtown Palo Alto. Courtesy Palo Alto Police Department.
Police released an image of the suspect obtained from a surveillance camera outside the convenience store.

On Aug. 8 an off-duty detective from the Palo Alto Police Department spotted Melroy Travenia, 52, getting on a bus on University Avenue at Bay Road in East Palo Alto. Noticing Travenia's resemblance to the reported robber, the detective called his supervisor, who coordinated with on-duty patrol officers to follow the bus, police said.

When the bus stopped at the University Avenue train station in Palo Alto, officers detained Travenia for investigation. Officers learned he was on active parole in San Mateo County for burglary. Officers contacted his parole officer, who issued a parole violation. Police booked Travenia into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on that violation, police said.

Over the course of the next two weeks, detectives conducted follow-up investigation into the case. During that time, Travenia was released from custody after his parole violation expired. On Thursday, Aug. 21, detectives presented the case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office, who filed a single felony charge of robbery against Travenia.

Police obtained a warrant for his arrest Tuesday morning, Aug. 26, and worked in conjunction with the parole officer to arrest Travenia at about 1:15 p.m. in the 1700 block of Bay Road in East Palo Alto. Police booked Travenia, who has no permanent residence, into the Santa Clara County Main Jail pursuant to the robbery warrant.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to or sent via text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the department's mobile app, downloadable at or

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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Like this comment
Posted by Scarry-Looking Detective
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 26, 2014 at 7:11 pm

That is one scarry-looking detective. Will he be working on Halloween?

Like this comment
Posted by Neil
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 26, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Why emphasize his photo like you have? Are you trying to frighten people? Or just draw traffic? Strikes me as racist. (I'm sure the censor will delete this post.)

Like this comment
Posted by MrRecycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2014 at 8:12 pm

How is it possible for a photo to be racist? Do you know that they always publish photos of the arrested criminal?

Like this comment
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2014 at 12:48 am

Sparty is a registered user.

You can do something good and get your picture in the paper. Or you can do something especially bad and get your picture in the paper. It's up to you.

Like this comment
Posted by Good-Work-Officer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2014 at 9:37 am

What a good "catch" on the part of the off-duty police officer. It's very hard to make much out of the surveillance photo. Presumably the victim had provided the police more detail about his assailant.

At any rate--this police officer earned his salary that day. Good going!

Like this comment
Posted by biker
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Aug 27, 2014 at 12:48 pm

you know me ,guy who rides bike , i am not black like that ,but i got stopped and frisked by papd .dont fit description at all.i am not dark and dont have frizzed hair! but i AM racially mixed.. ''pull em' all over. we can get away with it, were POLICE!''. lawbreakers is what cops are. but we'll let ferguson speak for us. american are hopelessly racist.including paloaltoonline.

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

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