Man remains at large after street robbery in Palo Alto

Thief runs off with gold chain in south Palo Alto street crime

Palo Alto police are investigating a robbery in which a man ripped a gold necklace from a woman's neck, according to a police department press release.

Police said the robbery occurred just after 6 p.m. Thursday in the 4000 block of Wilkie Way, north of the intersection at West Meadow Drive.

Investigators said the victim, a woman in her 40s, was walking north on the east sidewalk when the man ran up behind her, grabbed her around the neck, ripped her gold necklace off, and pushed her to the ground. The man continued to run north on Wilkie, towards Maclane Street.

The woman called police, but officers were not able to locate the thief.

The man, who did not speak to the woman or have a weapon, is described as 5 feet 8 inches tall with a muscular build. He was wearing a black, hooded sweatshirt. No sketch of him is available, police said.

The victim suffered an abrasion on her neck caused by the removal of the chain, but she didn't require medical attention, police said.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2015 at 8:38 am

Is the victim Indian or South Asian? Street robberies targeting Asian women are common in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, but this is the first I've heard of one up here.

4 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2015 at 11:22 am

ethnicity of the alleged criminal suspect?

Like this comment
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jan 2, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

race unknown, no sketch coming per PAPD

10 people like this
Posted by Kit Blanke
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 2, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Christmas packages were stolen from our church, Unity church, on Middlefield.
This happened on Jan 1 about 5.30pm We called police non emergency and it said call on Monday. That would be 4 days later.

My friend called 911, and the dispatcher said unless the burgler was still there and it was a life threatening situation, there WERE NO POLICE AVAILABLE FOR BURGLARIES UNTIL MONDAY.

I spoke with a good friend for 30 years who lives on Bryant. He went down to the police station during daytime hours, when things are normally open, and they are closed.

I'm sorry, are we paying a police force? And their pensions? Really?

Another friend who was bullied, had to move because police could/would not defend her, it cost her thousands, not to mention the trauma and now, fear, that police do not serve and protect.

What's up Palo Alto?

Like this comment
Posted by smells fishy
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 2, 2015 at 10:35 pm

Kit, did you speak with anyone or the recorded line? I can't believe that you were denied a response from the police department. If so, did you file a complaint with the supervisor? Packages left out in open, or stolen from inside the church?

5 people like this
Posted by kit
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 3, 2015 at 1:37 pm

I called 911 initially, knowing the police are closed on NY day, and they gave me the non-emergency local number (I spoke with a live person). My friend, who gave me the package, was in disbelief, so she called 911, and a woman answered and said it could be reported on Monday. My friend who refused to accept this advice said, "are you kidding me right? Monday?!" and the dispatcher said, "unless the burglar is still there and your life is threatened you will have to wait until Monday." This was Jan 1 a little before 6pm.

I am speaking out loud about this because it concerns me greatly.

I repeat what my friend on Bryant said because it appears I am not the only one finding an absence of police response/availability. Seems like open season on Palo Alto residents is entirely possible if the police do not respond except M-Th during regular work hours. VERY FISHY INDEED.

Are the police pissed off at the city of Palo Alto and its citizens?

2 people like this
Posted by kit
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 3, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Oh, sorry. I left out the part of the story, that as soon as the 911 dispatcher gave me the non-emergency number, I did dial it. And there was a recording saying they were closed until Monday.

Try calling them. Don't take my word for it.

Anyone, with a non-emergency police issue, try calling for help.
Don't take our word for it. That's why I'm writing, putting my neck on the
line for flaming disbelief in an online forum like this. Its a situation that
is quite hard to fathom to be true. But yet. There it is.

3 people like this
Posted by kit
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 3, 2015 at 1:52 pm

The package, which was red bag with ribbon, pattern was candy canes
and tag was gingerbread man that read "to: Kit from: Cindy contains: Joy"
it contained a number of gifts and stockings, it was on the church property,
sitting just inside the sanctuary.

When you ask that question, I guess you want to diffuse the issue by looking to blaming the church, or someone who left it, then bah humbug to you! Its wrong to take someone's xmas. No way around that. But at this point, we have a totally different concern and its worth writing about.

What concerns us at this point however, is the lack of available police response. It could have been a homeowner who lost a TV, or jewelry. I asked the dispatcher, would your reply be different if I was in my home and they robbed us there? And she (human) said no, unless it is life threatening wait until Monday. That's the issue here.

1 person likes this
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2015 at 5:29 pm

A bit off-subject, but I have been appalled at the packages left by the postal service at street level in full view of the many passerbys walking on our street instead of putting them in front of the apt doors. It's a small building and it really is not too much to ask to do that. I do not know if anybody has had anything missing.

Like this comment
Posted by smells fishy
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 3, 2015 at 10:35 pm

Thanks for the info kit. Not blaming anyone at all, trying to diffuse, or anything else. It is indeed wrong. But from reading the news lately, sounds like the police have been busy and available for numerous responses. I moved to PA from San Jose, partly becuase of the crime situation there, and the police there would not come for a theft with no suspect as you describe. I had several things stolen from my car and yard on various occasions. difference is, I did not choose to create such an issue about my petty crime and castigate the police for not responding to my situation. The police response would be the same in another town

Like this comment
Posted by hoodies
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 4, 2015 at 7:11 pm

[Post removed.]

1 person likes this
Posted by charlie
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jan 4, 2015 at 7:20 pm

[Post removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by Just For Fun
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 4, 2015 at 7:40 pm

I was pretty surprised and concerned that the police department was "closed" to non-violent crime reports, so I took kit's advice ("Try calling them. Don't take my word for it.") and called the non-emergency number. There was no recording - the (human) police emergency dispatch answered. She explained that the walk-in, "front desk" that answers the non-emergency line during weekday hours was closed, but the police department was not.

My understanding from the dispatcher was the police would respond to any type of call, based on judgement of urgency. Not sure this is different than any other weekend or holiday schedule. I think it's possible the police would postpone responding to a stolen package left outdoors because there is nothing urgent - no fingerprints or evidence to collect, just a report to be taken. My understanding is they would absolutely respond to a burglary.

My take-away was the police are available and responsive, but perhaps do not staff for minor crimes that have no urgency on weekends and holidays. Makes sense to me.

Like this comment
Posted by NoHoodieBan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 4, 2015 at 7:59 pm

[Post removed.]

1 person likes this
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 5, 2015 at 1:32 am

Wonder how many other packages had disappeared in that same area around the same time? The criminals had a field day I suppose, as some people probably were not aware that someone might have sent them a special gift in the mail (or dropped one off) .. so they didn't report it.
If someone wanted to know the days tally on police calls, I think there is a clip board near the front desk counter ( you have to ask for it ) that gives you arrest information, persons name and location, plus charges...... Anyone know if that information is still given out if asked? Seems I remembered a newspaper reporter getting huffy with the police a few years ago because he was denied access~ he eventually went over a few heads and the clip board reappeared.........

Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2015 at 12:41 pm

The same dispatch staff answers phone calls to both the emergency police number and the non-emergency police number. The patrol staff has the same mininum number of officers at the same time of day on all days of the week. For the hours of 7:00 am to midnight there are eight police on patrol, including a watch commander and a supervisor. At 5:30 pm there are two patrol teams with overlapping shifts that together account for the minimum staffing. One of those team's shift ends at 6:00 pm when another shift starts with a briefing that may last up to 30 minutes. For some reason, police officers some times do the job of dispatchers in addition to their regular patrol hours and any overtime patrol hours.

Like this comment
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 7, 2015 at 2:33 pm

OUR police station is open until 4pm Monday through Thursday. No Friday office hours, Sat or Sundays either....found that out yesterday when I showed up at 4:10 pm.....

Like this comment
Posted by Just For Fun
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 7, 2015 at 11:11 pm

Mayfield Child said: "OUR police station is open until 4pm Monday through Thursday. No Friday office hours, Sat or Sundays either....found that out yesterday when I showed up at 4:10 pm....."

Wow, you have your own walk-in police station? Awesome for you! I thought the City of Palo Alto had only one walk-in station, located at City Hall. Walk-in hours are very different from response hours though, so let's not mix apples with oranges.

(I'm not a PD or City of PA employee, this is just my common sense speaking, based on my conversation with PAPD when I called the non-emergency number on Sunday.) Walk-in services are not generally for crime-reporting issues, but for more administrative issues. For reporting crime the fastest and best option is to call either the non-emergency number (650-329-2413) for issues that are not true emergencies, or dial 911 for emergencies.

During non-business hours the non-emergency line is answered by the emergency dispatch (i.e. 911) team, though I suspect 911 calls are given higher priority. When I called the non-emergency number on Sunday my call was answered by the (live) police dispatch officer and my questions were answered.

Kit: I don't want to invalidate your posts or discredit your experience, it's just not what I experienced. Maybe you should contact the head of PAPD with the details of the times you called and report your experience? It is certainly possible that you spoke to someone different than I did, and got a different type of response.

The police are humans, just like any other profession - some are good and some are not so good. I think it's best to report a bad experience so the police leadership at least know about it and have an opportunity to address it.

Like this comment
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 9, 2015 at 4:26 am

"JUST FOR FUN": So seems like I am mixing applesauce with the oranges...I should possibly have said "THE PALO ALTO POLICE STATION" instead of "OUR Police Station"....(which this thread was about in the first place!!) Sorry if you didn't understand it.

I surely would have been tardy if I showed up on the job at 4:10 if it was in fact my own office! You are correct, walk in hours are different than asking for a response asap...via phone. Thank you for posting~

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

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Peek inside the fine-dining Selby's, opening in Redwood City this summer
By Elena Kadvany | 6 comments | 4,622 views

If you do nothing else, do These Three Things
By Sherry Listgarten | 17 comments | 1,702 views

Premarital and Couples: "You're Not Listening to Me!" may mean "I don't feel heard."
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,230 views

Lentil Brownies
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 279 views

Finding Balance
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 182 views


Vote now!

It's time once again to cast your vote for the best places to eat, drink, shop and spend time in Palo Alto. Voting is open now through May 27. Watch for the results of our 2019 Best Of contest on Friday, July 19.