Police investigate attempted street robberies

Both incidents occurred on Saturday night in north Palo Alto

Palo Alto police are investigating two attempted street robberies that they said occurred within a mile of each other on Saturday evening and that were each reportedly perpetrated by a man with a black cloth over his face.

In both cases, each victim was able to get away unscathed and without giving up his property.

Police received a call about the first attempted robbery at about 11:40 p.m. Saturday, according to a news release issued Monday from the Palo Alto Police Department. The victim, a man in his 50s, said he had had been walking near Newell Road and Dana Avenue, where a man who had his face covered with a black cloth walked up to him and demanded that he give up his wallet, police said.

The man with the covered face reportedly pulled out an unknown black object, police said. The victim told police that he did not believe the object was a gun. He refused to give up his wallet and walked away. The suspect then left, police said.

Then, at about 11:52 p.m. a similar incident occurred about a mile away, near the intersection of Cowper Street and Addison Avenue. The victim in this case was also a man in his 50s, police said. He was reportedly walking near the intersection when a man with a dark cloth over his face come up from behind him and demanded property, police said. The man with the cloth also had his hand in the waistband of his pants, as if he had a weapon, police said. The pedestrian ran away and, in doing so, saw the man with the black cloth enter a black SUV that traveled south on Cowper, toward Embarcadero Road.

The attempted robber in both cases was described by the victims as a Hispanic man in his 20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and with a medium build. Detectives are investigating whether the two robberies were committed by the same person, the news release states.

Anyone with information about the attempted robberies 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 free mobile app, downloadable at or


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31 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 9, 2018 at 4:34 pm

There have been more and more street robberies of pedestrians in Palo Alto in recent years. A big part of the problem is dim street lights and oversized SUVs and minivans parked along popular pedestrian routes, which makes the sidewalks even darker and blocks the view of police in patrol cars. The city needs to improve lighting on these sidewalks and increase police foot patrols along popular pedestrian routes.

18 people like this
Posted by Dave Hoffman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 10, 2018 at 11:29 am

Are there any police foot patrols along popular pedestrian routes? The only time I've ever seen Palo Alto police officers out of their cars other than responding to traffic incidents has been sitting outside at Philz Coffee on Forest at Alma, and I've lived in the downtown and Crescent Park neighborhoods since 2006.

2 people like this
Posted by almunday
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2018 at 8:44 am

PAPD foot patrols if implemented should be done in pairs. given how brazen criminals are, foot patrols in pairs would be much safer for the officer(s) and deter a crime event

3 people like this
Posted by J. Randolph
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2018 at 12:31 pm

The proximity of Crescent Park to EPA has been problematic for decades...especially from the standpoint of home burglaries.

The overall perception of affluence in Palo Alto is also a contributing factor & unlimited in geographic scope when it comes to assaults & robberies.

While a relatively safe city, it's always best to use common sense when walking alone at night as many of the perpetrators are not Palo Altans but from somewhere else.

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 13, 2018 at 11:09 pm

Just a hunch, but I think a lot of this crime is committed by gang members. I find it a serious topic.
And theft lower value than $950 is considered negligible now in California. I think criminals are delighted And emboldened. Sorry, I take a strong stance against crime and think first of the victims, rather than demanding “community policing” or other similar excuses/programs which encorage and excuse flat-out crime.

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