$10K offered for leads on Midtown Safeway armed robbers | News | Palo Alto Online |

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$10K offered for leads on Midtown Safeway armed robbers

Mothers Against Murder puts up reward for information on the crime, which involved a gun and threatened four employees

Palo Alto police have announced a $10,000 reward funded by a local nonprofit organization for information leading to the arrest and conviction of three men who violently robbed the Safeway store pharmacy in the Midtown neighborhood of Palo Alto early Friday morning.

Police have also released surveillance images of the men, who are believed to be Hispanic adults in their 20s with medium builds and ranging from 5'7 to 5'9 inches tall.

The man who brandished a gun during the robbery, which occurred around 12:38 a.m., wore a gray hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and red tennis shoes, according to a surveillance video.

A second man, who broke the glass door of the pharmacy, entered, and stole an unknown amount of prescription drugs. He wore a yellow hooded sweatshirt with a Tommy Hilfiger logo on it, dark pants and black shoes.

The third man, who police said was the lookout, was clean shaven and wore a red hooded jacket, gray pants and white sneakers.

In a press release Saturday, police also stated that two of the men came into the store and shoplifted food items on Thursday, Jan. 9, at 9:44 p.m., several hours prior to the armed robbery, according to surveillance video.

During the robbery, a male employee was ordered to lie on the ground near the pharmacy. No customers were in the store at the time, and none of the four employees was injured in the commission of the crime.

The vehicle in which the men fled from the store at 2811 Middlefield Road, just south of Colorado Avenue, was a full-size red two-door pickup truck, possibly an early 2000 model Ford or Chevrolet, according to police. It was last seen headed east on Oregon Expressway.

Locals step forward to fund reward

Due to the seriousness of the crime and the fact that a gun was used, the nonprofit Mothers Against Murder in Los Altos is offering the $10,000 reward for information leading to the robbers' arrest and conviction.

Palo Alto resident Roger Smith, who with his wife, Judy Kay, co-founded Mothers Against Murder in 2003, made the call to Police Chief Robert Jonsen, said the nonprofit's executive director, Margaret Petros.

"It really bothers them as community leaders that such brazen things have been happening. They're very upset," Petros said. "This is a place where families go to shop."

Smith said that he felt time was of the essence to put up the reward.

"I was thinking, 'My God. Fortunately, no one was hurt or killed, but it could have happened,'" Smith told the Weekly. "If we could get something out quickly, maybe something would happen" to help apprehend the robbers.

At the very least, he said he wants the three men to reconsider what they're doing and to know that people in the community are willing to offer money to stop their criminal behavior.

Smith said that danger has risen these days because of the prevalence of people illegally carrying guns.

"I have an enormous worry about guns," he said.

Even ordinary conflicts escalate: It used to be that people would get into fistfights or into arguments over car accidents, but "now a car wreck could get you shot," Smith said.

The group has put up money for information in three prior murder cases, including the Halloween 2018 double-homicide in East Palo Alto, but this is the first for an armed robbery.

"Our intention is to put more eyes and ears out there to send a clear message that this will not be tolerated," Petros said.

"We're hoping for a very quick resolution to this case. It's also a way to support the police," she said.

Anyone with information about Friday's armed robbery is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org 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 bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.

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Comments

16 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2020 at 10:00 pm

Safeway needs better cameras. These photos are probably too blurred for proper recognition. I hope more cameras do not offend privacy activists who have banned use of cameras in the city.


22 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2020 at 4:03 am

At least they seem to eat well. Looks like the guy in front is shoplifting a salad.
I have to keep deleting all my browser cookies because of the inane "5 article" limit like I'm gonna give a cent to this lousy newspaper. Isn't it important that we see these pictures without running into a paywall? Then I have to delete all my browser cookies to read articles here again.
Why do websites do this when there's such an easy workaround?
By the way, I wonder if these crimes have anything to do with the outsized political focus on the plight of those poor people in EPA not to mention the insane decision to declare CA a Sanctuary State... oh no but now we need to censor his comments!


5 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 13, 2020 at 5:04 am

^ You can follow PAPD on Twitter and see all the crime photos they release, without a Twitter account. Facebook also, but difficult without an account. The official City of Palo Alto website is full of bugs, so many links go nowhere (but it's my fault for not volunteering to fix it).


5 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 13, 2020 at 9:32 am

What is wrong with these young men? How unreal and arrogant for them to think that they will not be found!

And when they are found, their lives will change forever.


31 people like this
Posted by Not So Much
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 13, 2020 at 10:11 am

@Anneke: If only it were so. After arrest, the police and prosecutors won't even cooperate with federal authorities to check their immigration status. They'll be out on bail, and then disappear into the wind.


13 people like this
Posted by the Party of Personal Responsibility
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

> like I'm gonna give a cent to this lousy newspaper.

Yet you're here *all* the time, posting vociferously.

That's great: screaming to lower your taxes yet wanting more services that effect you, all the while screaming 'not in my back yard'! "I hate this newspaper", yet I read it religiously and I'm on their website many hours a week!

I have a political party that's perfect for you: it's the Party of Personal Responsibility - the Grand Old Party!

Oh, wait...


15 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2020 at 11:25 am

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Midtown

>> Safeway needs better cameras. These photos are probably too blurred for proper recognition. I hope more cameras do not offend privacy activists who have banned use of cameras in the city.

What law are you referring to? AFAIK, SF and Oakland banned the police from doing realtime facial recognition, but, if there are restrictions on private property security videos, I haven't heard about it. There is an interesting discussion of many of the issues in this article:

Web Link

It is one of those things where, sure, everyone is happy if you use facial recognition to nab a robber, but, when law enforcement starts doing pro-active realtime scanning of political gatherings, people get nervous -- and, rightly so. And, once the tagged and identified image data is "out there", it is pretty difficult to get it back under control, and, can be used to commit crimes as well as prevent them. Don't think for a second that the privacy and security issues are easy.


10 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 13, 2020 at 11:37 am

Clearly they need to send these photos to the TV CSI shows so they can put them through their image enhancement and sharpen them to crystal clarity like they do so well in the movies. ;-)

Seriously Safeway, a surveillance system from the 80's?

These guys need to be caught and caught quickly.


22 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 13, 2020 at 11:42 am

When someone come into 7-11 or Safeway late night or early morning with their face concealed, wearing big baggy clothes - isn't it time to press the alarm button - right away, and send someone outside to meet them?

Can't we get a rule that says you have to not be concealing your identity to go into a store like this? I know this angers Muslim women and their burkas, but it is too much how often these stores are robbed. At some point someone is going to be hurt or killed. People need to be identifiable in such circumstances.


29 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 13, 2020 at 11:45 am

>> the insane decision to declare CA a Sanctuary State... oh no but now we need to censor his comments!

And here come the Sanctuary State whiners.

If there was an illegal immigrant who could ID these three, wouldn't you want them to come forward instead of hiding from the police because they know they will be deported? Is that so hard for you to figure out?


38 people like this
Posted by DMX
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2020 at 12:31 pm

Why are you idiots so quick to jump to the conclusion that they are illegals. Most crimes are committed by non illegals, even if they are of Hispanic origin.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 13, 2020 at 12:43 pm

Is someone comes foreword to identify these people then they and their families will be at risk. Crescent Park - you are all over the place with your comments - a set of rules in one posting then a different POV in another. These people live in the hood - the hood knows who they are. And the hood knows to keep their mouths shut or someone will shut it for them. The 7-11 needs to close earlier so they do not put their workers at risk. We should probably shut down the mid-town stores at a stated time so that workers and residences do not have to deal with this type of stuff. The residents who live near these stores are at risk if a gun fight breaks out.
This is all bad news for the city. Add the people who run around with spray paint in the middle of the night marking up their territory and churches. We need more police patrolling.
Add to that the people who sleep in their cars in residential areas - we do not know who they are or what they are doing there.


3 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2020 at 12:51 pm

@Anon: by more cameras I meant those that can read license plates. The police department can easily relate the time of the crime to the traffic in the main streets and get some clues about the vehicle used in the burglary. The data from these cameras can also be used for traffic control in normal operation. The volume of such videos is so high that it must be deleted in a day or so. But that is enough time to allow police to investigate the data right after a particular emergency (and delete other personal information, like who came home late or something).


Like this comment
Posted by fingie
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 13, 2020 at 1:14 pm

There's a lot less crime these days than when I was growing up.

Part is leo advances, part is the booming CA economy of the last decade.


15 people like this
Posted by Immigrant
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 13, 2020 at 1:41 pm

One unintended consequence of sanctuary city laws is that anyone looking Hispanic shall be assumed to be illegal (at least by some people). The lesson learned is that the governments should obey immigration laws (just like any other law even if they don't agree with it) so people shall have zero excuse to assume that anyone looking Hispanic is an illegal resident.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 13, 2020 at 2:45 pm

@Neighbor, "The volume of such videos is so high that it must be deleted in a day or so."
But the listing of all license plate numbers with time stamps would fit on a floppy.


14 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2020 at 5:09 pm

Nothing good happens after midnight. Close earlier, and if you insist on staying open that late - if someone comes in with baggie pants, hoodie, etc. follow them around. They need to be watched. If that's profiling - too bad.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 13, 2020 at 10:05 pm

If we get certain high risk areas shut down at specific times with closed stores then it will be more obvious when people are just driving around. There is no point in their being there. Patrols at night would have an easier time of seeing activity if the stores are closed. Midtown is surrounded by residents and do not need to have gangs roaming round. Close it all so there is no reason to be there.


Like this comment
Posted by the Party of Personal Responsibility
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 14, 2020 at 10:16 am

> If we get certain high risk areas shut down at specific times

Yeah! Martial Law, everyone! Remember when the fringe right was freaked out by Obama using FEMA camps, Jade Helm, etc..?

> Patrols at night

Lemme guess? Maybe have them wear brown shirts so we can easily identify them?



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