News Digest | May 20, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 20, 2022

News Digest

Woman accosted by robbers in roadside attack

Two people attempted to rob an elderly Palo Alto woman of her wedding ring on Saturday afternoon, Palo Alto police said in a press release. The woman, who is her 80s and was using a walker, was in the 700 block of Channing Avenue when a black sedan pulled up beside her. A female passenger asked the woman for directions to a grocery store before getting out and telling the victim that she resembled her mother. The woman said she wanted to give the victim a piece of her mother's jewelry, took the victim's hand off the walker and slipped a bracelet onto her wrist. The woman then tried to pull the victim's wedding ring off her finger, but it would not come off. She then got back into the car, driven by a man, and the duo fled eastbound on Channing.

Two of the victim's fingers were bruised during the attempted robbery. The victim described the woman as an adult with dark black hair in a bun and about 5 feet, 4 inches tall. She had a medium complexion. The driver was a man with dark hair and a dark mustache.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the dispatch center at 650-383-8984.

— Sue Dremann

City settles with violent arrest victim

Palo Alto reached a settlement on Wednesday with Julio Arevalo, who suffered a facial bone fracture at the hands of a city police officer during an arrest outside Happy Donuts in July 2019.

The city agreed to pay $150,000 and Arevalo agreed to dismiss his suit against the city and release all claims against individuals involved. The city will not make any admissions of fault or liability, City Attorney Molly Stump said.

The full settlement agreement will be submitted for court approval in coming weeks.

Arevalo, who was 23 years old at the time of the incident, was arrested by former Agent Thomas DeStefano in front of the doughnut shop at 3916 El Camino Real. During the arrest, which was captured on surveillance video and on DeStefano's body camera, DeStefano asked Arevalo if he was on probation and then attempted to detain him.

Arevalo tried to walk away from DeStefano, who followed him, tried to pin his arm behind his back, flipped him to the ground and told him to "stop resisting."

Arevalo was later transported to a hospital to treat a fractured orbital socket, according to the police.

DeStefano, who left the department in September 2021, also alleged that Arevalo may have been involved in a drug transaction, though Arevalo was never charged and the video doesn't offer any evidence to substantiate that claim.

In November 2019, Arevalo filed a suit against the city for $3.85 million in damages, accusing the Police Department of violating his civil rights. The claim stated that he was violently attacked and "falsely arrested" by DeStefano, who then included information in his report that he knew was false.

— Gennady Sheyner

City looks to restore police, fire positions

After two years of attrition, the Palo Alto City Council is preparing to boost spending in the city's police and fire departments and restore positions cut during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The budgets for the city's three public safety departments are set to increase by 11% in the coming fiscal year, going from $80 million to $89.2 million. The number of positions would increase from 218 to 237. This includes 134 positions in the Police Department, 100 in the Fire Department and 2.5 in the Office of Emergency Services.

The Police Department plans to add more patrol officers and solidify its Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, which pairs an officer with a Santa Clara County behavioral health professional to address mental health crises. The team currently relies on a patrol officer to fill a position on the team, but the budget includes a dedicated position for the team.

City Manager Ed Shikada's proposed budget would add five authorized positions, a detective, a personnel training lieutenant, an officer to serve on the PERT team and two officers for a "special problems detail" focused on property crimes and homelessness.

In addition to the patrol positions, the budget also authorizes the department to hire a communication manager for the dispatch center, a technical services director and two dispatchers.

The Fire Department also will get a staffing boost this year, including five positions funded by a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. The new positions will allow the department to fully staff all of its stations on a 24/7 basis.

— Gennady Sheyner


Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 16, 2022 at 11:39 am

vmshadle is a registered user.

Wow. Preying on a frail elderly person and trying to steal an item likely far more valuable in personal than cash terms. Appalling and disgraceful. (The rest of my reactions are not printable in a family newspaper.)

I hope this woman sustains no permanent physical or emotional/mental damage from this assault.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 16, 2022 at 12:41 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

This deserves a LOT of attention! This despicable crime is the latest in a string of criminal thuggery affecting Palo Alto, the SF Bay Area and portions of the state of California.
Contact your political representatives to state it’s time to get tough on criminals and protect the general public. We are in an era of unprecedented risk to Public Safety. Patrols, arrests, charging, active prosecution must occur.
Stop the idiotic “no bail” scheme.

Posted by WhatAboutme
a resident of Midtown
on May 16, 2022 at 1:29 pm

WhatAboutme is a registered user.

Yes, it happens and I hope ppl notify their neighbors/twitter:

See link: San Jose/San Ramon in February:

Web Link

"This is a part of a large group, stemming from the Eastern European area. In our city, the target demographic were the elderly and it was people of South Asian descent."

Dozens of primarily Asian Americans, reached out to ABC7 News on social media, warning their loved ones had been victimized as well. Reports came in from Union City, South San Francisco, San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area.

82-year-old San Jose woman swindled of expensive necklace in her own driveway
Police say older Asians are being targeted, and that they need to be especially cautious during the time of the Lunar New Year.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A crime ring sweeping California is targeting seniors, often Asian Americans, for thousands of dollars in jewelry. In many cases, the victims don't even realize what's happening, the crimes happen so fast.

"They'll come up to them, engage them in a convo that's very friendly and take cheap costume jewelry or a bracelet/necklace and say 'we want you to have this,'" says Capitan Denton Carlson with the San Ramon Police Department.

It's the same "slight of hand" crime targeting seniors in many parts of the Bay Area, Southern California and Sacramento area.

Video from a man named Chris Luu shows his 82-year-old mother in the front yard of her San Jose home. She's flagged over by a woman in an SUV who says some words to her, gets close and suddenly her gold chain is gone. Video shows the woman walk away, slightly confused at what just happened.
Capitan Carlson explains the crime.

"They'll slip the jewelry on the unsuspecting victim and at the same time they're engaging, they'll take it back and remove the victim's valuable jewelry."

Posted by Erin Hubbell
a resident of Mountain View
on May 16, 2022 at 2:41 pm

Erin Hubbell is a registered user.

A similar 'bait & steal' operation was reported by customers in the parking lot of the Grant Road Plaza in Mountain View awhile back.

Two white males were driving around slowly in a late model pickup truck and offering people an opportunity to buy solid 18K gold 'imported European' jewelry at 60% below ordinary retail.

When one prospective customer threatened to contact the police, they departed quickly and were never seen again in the area.

As noted in Whataboutme's San Jose/San Ramon suspect description, we later learned that there were recent reports of Romani swindlers operating in the area.

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