A man who tried to apprehend two car burglars in a downtown Palo Alto parking garage last week became the victim of a violent crime after one of two men brandished a knife and threatened to stab him, police said Wednesday.
The man, who is in his 40s, was driving on the second floor of the Cowper/Webster garage at 520 Webster St. on Nov. 10 when he noticed two men who seemed suspicious, police said. He parked his car on the third level and walked down to the second floor to see what they were doing. After he heard a window smash, he saw the men standing next to a pickup truck with a shattered door window.
When the burglars noticed him, they began to run. The witness chased both men and tackled one to the ground. The two proceeded to fight. During the struggle the witness's pocketknife fell off his belt and landed on the ground, police said.
The second burglar, who had stopped to watch the fight, picked up the knife, held it up close to the witness's face, and demanded that he let his partner go or else he would stab him. The witness relented, and the burglars fled on foot in the alleyway toward University Avenue.
The witness immediately called police around 7:30 p.m. Responding officers did not find the men, police said.
The men absconded with the knife but dropped a bag they had stolen from the pickup truck, which was a gray 2007 Toyota Tacoma. Officers contacted the vehicle's owner and returned the bag, which contained about $300 worth of personal property, police said.
The witness suffered minor injuries during the fight from being punched, but he declined medical attention at the scene.
The men are described as Hispanic men between 20 and 30 years old; they wore black hooded sweatshirts, black pants and face coverings. The man tackled by the witness was about 5 feet, 10 inches tall with a heavy build, while the one who brandished the knife was about 5 feet, 6 inches tall with a thin build.
Police caution the public to avoid direct confrontations with suspected criminals.
"Officers encourage anyone who may witness a property crime like an auto burglary to immediately call the police, keep the suspects under observation from a safe distance, and provide a full description to help officers apprehend them," the department said in a statement.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] 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.