Palo Alto police are searching for a man who allegedly exposed himself to at least three people over the course of an hour at Stanford Shopping Center last Thursday, March 26.
The man -- described by police as an Asian or Hispanic male in his 30s or 40s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall with a medium to heavy build -- was first seen sitting inside Starbucks on Thursday morning with himself exposed through his open fly. The witness was a man in his 20s.
A woman in her 20s who first saw the man outside of Starbucks around 8 a.m. later reported to police that he had approached her while she was sitting and talking on her cell phone in the center of the mall. He stood next to her with the fly on his pants down, police said. The woman stood up and walked away. As she looked back over her shoulder, the man made eye contact with her, according to police, but did not speak to her. She called Stanford Shopping Center security personnel immediately to report what had happened, police said.
At about 8:30 a.m., a shopping center security officer found a man matching the description provided, sitting in a breezeway near Starbucks. The security officer contacted the man and noted his fly was down, but that he was not exposed, police said. The security officer called the woman, who was still in the area, to see if he was speaking with the right person. The security officer thought that she said the man was not the suspect and allowed the man to leave.
When police interviewed the woman, she said she told the security officer that the man was indeed the original man who had exposed himself to her. Police said "there was an inadvertent miscommunication between the security officer and the victim."
The ensuing investigation revealed that a second woman had apparently contacted shopping center security to report that the man had exposed himself to her as well. Police have been unable to contact that woman as of yet, and do not know her age or any details or circumstances of that incident.
Police are recommending that anyone who witnesses an indecent exposure immediately contact the police. The original woman was the first and only person to contact police in this case, which she did at 10 a.m. after speaking with a co-worker.
Police have spoken with security personnel to ensure that any future such incidents are promptly cross-reported to law enforcement. Detectives are continuing to actively investigate this case.
The man reportedly had short black hair, was clean-shaven and wearing black thick-rimmed eyeglasses, police said. He was wearing a dark-colored jacket or pullover sweater over a light-colored buttoned shirt and light-colored denim jeans. A surveillance image of the man shows him to be wearing a large dark-colored backpack.
The security officer last saw the man on a black bicycle, riding eastbound on Sand Hill Road towards El Camino Real. It is possible the first woman will be meeting with a police artist to produce a suspect sketch, which will be released.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the police department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984.
Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the department's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.