Police warn elderly residents of jewelry-theft scheme after third incident comes to light | May 27, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 27, 2022

Police warn elderly residents of jewelry-theft scheme after third incident comes to light

Investigators look into whether crimes are related

by Bay City News Service

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 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 has similarities 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 from 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, which drove east on Channing at a high speed.

The victim in the Channing 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.

Another 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 [email protected]


Posted by Heckity
a resident of Barron Park
on May 26, 2022 at 3:59 am

Heckity is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by James Lassiter
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 26, 2022 at 10:38 am

James Lassiter is a registered user.

"...in a language she thought was Urdu and the other in heavily accented English."

"She said the suspect had "darker" skin and was possibly of Middle Eastern or Romanian heritage."

^ These are Romani descriptions, an Indo-Aryan ethnicity from Eastern Europe.

Commonly known as gypsys (a politically incorrect pejorative), they are not to be be mistaken with the Romanian people who have an entirely different language.

Posted by Sheryl Johnston
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 26, 2022 at 12:16 pm

Sheryl Johnston is a registered user.

Though the Romani people have been characterized throughout history as nomadic swindlers and thieves, not all of them fall into this category.

The pejorative term 'gypsy' was origionally coined from the word 'gyp' (to get ripped off or taken in by a scam) and all things considered, 'figurative' gypsys come in all shapes and colors.

Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 26, 2022 at 5:21 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Sheryl Johnston - You have it backwards, gyp is derived from Gypsy which is derived from Egyptian which is where the Romani people were mistakenly believed to originate from in the middle ages.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.


Register today to support local nonprofits

The 38th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, September 9. Proceeds go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local nonprofits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon. Complete your race in person or virtually to support local nonprofits.

Register Now!