Police arrest East Palo Alto teens for strong-arm robbery

Alleged incident took place on Monday night in downtown Palo Alto garage

Two teenagers from East Palo Alto were arrested Monday night after the strong-arm robbery of a woman in a downtown Palo Alto parking garage, according to a police press release.

The victim, a woman in her 50s, told police that she and her husband were walking to their car on Level A of a parking garage on Bryant Street at about 9:30 p.m. when an unknown male ran up behind her and ripped her purse out of her hand and fled. The woman's husband chased after the thief until he lost sight of him and then returned to his wife, police said. The woman was not injured.

While responding police officers were interviewing the victim, the police department received a call that two witnesses to the crime were chasing the thief on foot near Hamilton Avenue and Middlefield Road while a third witness followed in his vehicle.

Officers arrived in the area and took the alleged thief into custody without incident, police said. The witnesses told police that there was a second male who had also fled. As the witness in the car was leaving the scene, police said, he spotted the second suspect at Middlefield and Lytton Avenue and was able to detain the suspect without incident and called police, who arrived a short time later and took the second suspect into custody.

Investigators said the first male taken into custody had allegedly snatched the woman's purse; the second suspect allegedly acted as a lookout. Using software on the victim's stolen smartphone, officers were able to trace it to a residence on the 800 block of Bell Street in East Palo Alto.

A man in his 50s at the home turned the smartphone over to officers. The man told police that he had just found the cellphone on the ground in the parking lot of a business in the 300 block of Lytton and hadn't gotten the chance to figure out how to return the cellphone to its owner.

Officers went back to that parking lot and found the victim's purse as well as a tablet computer in the bushes. Police believe the suspects discarded the stolen items in the parking lot as they fled, the press release stated.

Both suspects are 16 years old. The two were arrested for felony robbery and felony conspiracy to commit a crime and taken to Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall.

Police are not releasing booking photos of the juveniles because they are under 18.

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


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19 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 22, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Good job by the witnesses in chasing down the perps. Police used to advise witnesses not to get physically involved, but with understaffed police departments and rising crime rates, I guess that don't say that anymore.

27 people like this
Posted by NoMoPa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2016 at 12:03 am

Do we need to wait for a murder before we get cameras in these garages?

8 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 23, 2016 at 10:32 am

It seems like the victims of mugging or burglary in Palo Alton seem to skew middle-aged or older, while the perp is some teenager from EPA. Are older residents particularly targeted?

15 people like this
Posted by Midlander
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2016 at 10:37 am

Midlander is a registered user.

Major Kudos to the witnesses who chased the culprits here!

It's very easy to decide to not get involved. But by helping out here, the witnesses not only helped to arrest the immediate culprits but also sent a warning to other would-be thieves.

Thank you!

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

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