Palo Alto police are looking into whether a third roadside jewelry theft reported this week is connected to two other similar incidents that took place earlier this month and in late October.
A news account about an attempted strong-arm robbery on May 14 prompted one man who read it to contact police about a similar incident that happened to his mother last month, police said.
The man told police that his mother was targeted in a similar crime at around 1 p.m. on either April 2 or 3. His mother, who's in her 90s, had been riding her mobility scooter on the sidewalk in the 500 block of Stanford Avenue when someone approached her on foot and said that she reminded her of her own mother. The suspect put a gold chain and a turquoise ring on the woman and then left.
When the woman got home, she realized that the person had stolen her necklace and ring. The victim described the suspect as a woman in her late 40s with dark hair.
The theft is similar to an attempted strong-arm robbery on May 14. On that day, a woman in her 80s was walking near Channing Avenue and Middlefield Road at around 4 p.m. when a large, black four-door sedan pulled up next to her and a female passenger asked her for directions, police said.
The passenger then got out of the car and told the woman that she reminded her of her mother and asked if she could give her a piece of her mother's jewelry. The passenger took the woman's hand off the walker she had been using and slipped a bracelet onto the victim's wrist.
The passenger then tried to remove the woman's wedding ring off her finger, but it would not budge. According to police, the suspect pulled hard but the ring stayed on the woman's finger. The suspect then jumped back into the car and the vehicle took off east on Channing at a high speed.
The victim in the Channing Avenue theft could not describe the suspect very clearly, but said that she was about 5 feet, 4 inches tall, with a medium complexion and dark hair in a bun.
A similar roadside scam took place in Palo Alto last October, police said. In this case, a woman in her 70s was out walking with her husband when a vehicle pulled up and two people inside, a man and woman, began to talk to them, one in a language she thought was Urdu and the other in heavily accented English. The female suspect offered the victim a gold necklace and placed it around her neck before the pair drove off. The victim soon realized that both of her own gold necklaces had been swiped.
The victim in this incident described the suspect as a woman in her 50s with a scarf over her head and a face covering. She said the suspect had "darker" skin and was possibly of Middle Eastern or Romanian heritage.
There are currently no suspects identified and the thefts remain unsolved.
Police are encouraging adult children and caregivers of senior residents to discuss these incidents with them and make them aware of the scam.
Anyone with information about any of the thefts is asked to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Tips can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.