Palo Alto police are seeking the public's assistance in their investigation of the theft of gold necklaces along the roadside near Mitchell Park on Saturday afternoon.
The theft was reported to police around 4:40 p.m. on Oct. 23, when the city's 24-hour dispatch center took a call from a woman in her 70s who said her necklaces were stolen 45 minutes earlier while she was out on a walk with her husband, police said in a press release Monday.
The couple was in the 700 block of East Meadow Drive when they were approached by a vehicle carrying three people: a man in the driver's seat, a woman in the front passenger seat and a child under the age of 10 in the back seat.
After the driver stopped in front of the couple, the female passenger spoke to the older woman, who believed the passenger was speaking Urdu, according to police. The driver tried to distract the older woman's husband by speaking to him in English with a heavy accent.
Without getting out of the car, the female passenger then placed a gold necklace around the older woman's neck, as if she was giving the jewelry to her.
"The victim could not understand what the female suspect was saying to her during the interaction," according to the press release.
Roughly two minutes later, the driver left the area, heading west on East Meadow Drive towards Middlefield Road, police said. After the vehicle departed, the woman discovered that the female passenger had taken two gold necklaces from her neck as she placed the other one.
The female passenger was described as a woman in her 50s with a scarf over head and a face covering. She had a "darker" skin tone and was possibly of Middle Eastern or Romanian descent, according to police. The couple was unable to describe the driver.
The driver and female passenger never stepped out of their vehicle during their exchanges, police said.
The vehicle was an older model silver sedan. Officers searched for home surveillance cameras in the area and located one that captured an image of the car, according to police.
Investigators are looking into whether the case is similar to other ones in neighboring cities.
In light of Saturday's theft, police have warned the public to stay alert of their surroundings and exercise caution when they're approached by people in an unfamiliar vehicle.
Anyone with information about this incident or other suspicious activity in the city is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.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.