Bike-riding thieves rob man on University Avenue

Early-morning holdup possibly involved a gun

Two men riding bicycles allegedly robbed a 40-year-old man at gunpoint in the Crescent Park neighborhood early Tuesday morning, Palo Alto police said Thursday.

Officers responded to a call at 5:03 a.m. on Tuesday of a robbery in the 1600 block of University Avenue. The 40-year-old man was walking east where the two men approached him from behind, according to a police press release. One of the bicyclists allegedly drew what appeared to be a handgun from his waistband and demanded money.

The pedestrian responded by throwing the money in his pocket onto the ground. He told police that the men might have been alarmed by a passing car, as both robbers fled heading east, police said.

The 40-year-old man was not injured. He did not have a cellphone with him and walked to a home in the 500 block of Crescent Avenue, where he knocked on the front door and asked the occupant to call police.

Police said it is possible the man targeted in the robbery might be able to work with a sketch artist, but no images of the men are available at this time.

The armed thief is described as a 6-foot, 1-inch tall black man who is about 20 years old and weighing around 190 pounds. He has a gap in between his two front teeth and wore a dark green beanie and a black hooded sweatshirt.

The second man was described as in his mid-20s, light-skinned, possibly Hispanic and around 5 feet 8 inches tall with a stocky build. He had a black goatee and dark shoulder-length, straight hair. He wore a black sweatshirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at or


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


10 people like this
Posted by Stealthily Call 911
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2018 at 12:14 pm

If you have an iPhone, remember that you can contact emergency services by rapidly clicking the sleep/wake button five times. Most people walk around here now with their hand on their phone no matter what they are doing.

There's probably a similar feature on other phone types.

30 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 23, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Are more descriptive headline would be "thieves with guns" instead of "thieves with bikes".

14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Perhaps thieves know it is so difficult to drive on our traffic clogged streets and that it is quicker and safer to go by bike around town. :)

Joking aside, when police can't catch thieves leaving on a bike something seems very wrong.

26 people like this
Posted by Norm
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 23, 2018 at 1:10 pm

I live close to University Avenue and I do not walk around the area after dark. Not the same Palo Alto when I moved here 24 years ago.

26 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 23, 2018 at 1:19 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Speaking of bike-riding thieves, I still giggle at the incident some years ago where a neon-spandex-clad bike rider wearing his bike helmet robbed the Bank of America on Sand Hill one sunny day when lots of cyclists were out in droves. He then vanished into the hordes of other neon-spandex clad helmet-wearing bike riders never to be seen again.

5 people like this
Posted by A Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 23, 2018 at 1:46 pm

[Post removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by Chad
a resident of University South
on Aug 23, 2018 at 2:36 pm

[Post removed.]

45 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 23, 2018 at 3:29 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

A sharp increase in violent crime always follows needless and mindless urbanization. The vibrancy, meaning non stop development, which Liz Kniss insists is vital or Palo Alto would atrophy, resulted in not only clogged streets, but also streets and neighborhoods that are not safe anymore. Welcome to the wonderful rewards of growth.

13 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 24, 2018 at 10:35 am

Annette is a registered user.

It's good to read that the victim was not physically harmed by the fellows who robbed him. And that someone on the 500 block of Crescent was nice enough and trusting enough to let him in their home to use the phone. I am not sure I would be as brave at 5am; probably would just offer to make the call.

I echo the comments by Norm. Just last night I opted to not go out for a walk b/c I got home after dark and I would have been alone. No need to make it easy for the miscreants in our community to do their thing.

3 people like this
Posted by TorreyaMan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 24, 2018 at 4:38 pm

TorreyaMan is a registered user.

To Resident: Why are you disparaging the police? I am guessing it was at least 10 minutes before the police were called. Plenty of time for escape.

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.

Verve Coffee to start brewing in Palo Alto this Friday
By Elena Kadvany | 7 comments | 1,924 views

Premarital and Couples: Musings on Life
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,062 views

The summer bucket list
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 730 views

Cap On? Cap Off? The Cities Respond
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 675 views

Why we are Warming
By Sherry Listgarten | 4 comments | 610 views