Palo Alto police seek pepper-spraying robbers

No similar robberies have been reported, police said

Palo Alto police are looking for two men who allegedly pepper sprayed a woman in downtown Palo Alto Monday night before robbing her, according to a press release.

At about 7:16 p.m. Monday, police were called about an armed robbery hat had taken place about 10 minutes earlier in the 300 block of Lane 20 East, an alley that runs north of and parallel to the 300 block of University Avenue between Waverley and Florence streets. Officers immediately responded, but did not find the alleged robbers, police said.

An investigation revealed that the woman, who is in her forties, was walking westbound through the downtown alley when she saw the two men walking towards her. One of them sprayed her in the face with pepper spray, causing her vision to become blurry, and the other ripped a necklace from her neck and a pair of hoop earrings from her ears, according to police. Both the ran away in an unknown direction.

The woman stayed in the alley for a few minutes until her vision returned, police said, and then walked to a nearby store and called 9-1-1. She complained of burning pain on her face, eyes and neck area, but was otherwise not physically injured, police said.

She described the two men as Hispanic adults in their early twenties. Both had thin builds, she told police, and were between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall. They were both wearing black pants and black hooded sweatshirts with the hoods pulled over their heads, according to police. One of them was wearing a black baseball cap. No sketches of the men are available or anticipated, the release states.

Police said Tuesday that there have been no similar street robberies in Palo Alto. Detectives are investigating the alleged incident.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department’s 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to 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 or

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4 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 1, 2016 at 11:28 am

Why doesn't Palo Alto have police officers on walk-patrol duty? I rarely see patrol cars around the City. Where are the Palo Alto Police?

8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 1, 2016 at 11:40 am

We agree with @Barbara. With so many assaults on pedestrians these days, why aren't there any police officers on foot or on bicycle? Many of these assaults occur in parking garages or alleys or sidewalks that are hard to observe from a moving patrol car.

9 people like this
Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 1, 2016 at 12:34 pm

do we have cameras downtown at the various parking garages ? I have no expectation of privacy in public garages and this might help with proof and prevention.

13 people like this
Posted by My cup of Tea
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 1, 2016 at 12:52 pm

My cup of Tea is a registered user.

Hello hello???? Lets pay police to walk the streets of downtown, every night, to protect people who need to think before they go marching off into an ill lit alley alone when they are flashing gold and obviously vulnerable? Lets get cameras, around garages and alley lead ups(They are cheaper and more constant than police).
PLEASE....... if you are vulnerable, either dont wear gold, or button up so you cant see it. Ladies time to dump those huge handbags full of future goodies for robbers to grab and go with your ID and a wallet in your pocket like guys!!! Oh OK, OK and lipstick and a comb in another pocket. I carry a thin small purse on a long handle across my body under my sweater or coat when I am alone, and I only go on lighted streets, I also carry a small but extremely load alarm, and I am very vulnerable being 70!!! I also took a self defence class, yep just in case!.

6 people like this
Posted by wander3r
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2016 at 2:01 pm

wander3r is a registered user.

@My cup of Tea: wise advice, perhaps, but let me add my $.02: Mean male species (fine, add females if you must, but let's be honest about this--we know it's mostly males), please stop mugging, robbing, shooting, stealing from, scaring, knifing, beating up, inflicting bodily harm against, burglarizing, and overall menacing us. We are tired of it and don't want the likes of you in our lives. We have enough to worry about without you. Go out, get jobs, earn some money and get your own dang stuff. Leave our things alone. Man up, for Pete's sake. Stop being the spineless fraction of a man that most of you are and do right by yourselves and the rest of the world. Seriously, are you proud of what you have become? You think your children are proud of you? Knock it off and be decent and leave people and their things alone. OK, just had to get that off my chest.

P.S. The holidays are coming up. Can you please just not steal decorations this year? Leave the menorahs on the lawn and the wreaths on the doors. Please? And don't take anybody's gifts from the porch and try to pass them off as something you purchased. How low can you get, really?

Posted by karma- government attacking indians!
a resident of Professorville

on Nov 1, 2016 at 2:33 pm

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5 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 1, 2016 at 2:42 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

At any given time, Palo Alto only has a handful of officers available to patrol all 24 square miles of the city. So it would be great to have more police, and even dedicate some to the downtown. But we need to be willing to pay for and hire more police.

@Alice Schaffer Smith - cameras would be a great inexpensive complement to more police. The city is being negligent in not installing them, especially in the parking garages.

9 people like this
Posted by Safe City
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Safe City is a registered user.

@Cup o' Tea: Yeah, it's great to have pockets for our wallet and comb, which I usually do like you. But we also need the freedom to wear a gold necklace and hoop earrings sometimes, and carry a purse when we decide to sport a dress. Why should we have to act like we live in a war zone? Let's not blame the victim. Let's work toward a city where we can be safe.

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