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Armed robber hits Midtown ice-cream shop

Original post made on Apr 11, 2008

A man held up Baskin Robbins on Middlefield Road late Thursday, threatening a clerk with a semi-automatic gun and leaving with an unknown amount of money, Palo Alto Police Sgt. Sandra Brown said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 11, 2008, 1:24 PM

Comments (83)

Posted by Ada
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Unbelievable! And how long did it take police to react?

Posted by sue mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 11, 2008 at 1:55 pm

We need closer monitoring of the the access roads to Palo Alto with CTTVs and a police presence.

there has been an increase in gun crimes in our neighborhoods.

How about special stickers for PA residents cars?

Posted by Sue Dad
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Yes, there are no criminals living in Palo Alto.
What would having stickers for PA residents do? Should the police pull over everyone without a sticker??? Get real.

Posted by lolllllllllllfunny
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:27 pm

the palo alto residents who think NOTHING happens here are hillarious. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].

Posted by MidtownMom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:36 pm

This is so scary! The place is full of kids till late hours (specially on a hot day!)

I am guessing no cameras at this store, no emergency alert system .. not that we should ever need it .. but then the rate at which the crime has increased in PA - ever store owner better look into this.

Posted by sally
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:37 pm

How much money could you steal from an ice cream store?? Maybe $50? A Thursday night during the spring can't be a high volume day for them.

Posted by MidtownMom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:39 pm

$5 or $50 or $5000 ... the amount stolen is irrelevant. The act of 'stealing' ( with the presence of a gun ) is of a much more concern

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Petty crime accompanied with guns is beginning to happen much too often in Palo Alto. The fact that East Palo Alto has just considered itself an emergency situation, can't be a coincidence. We had the wheelchair robber, the gun incident at the Jack in a Box and increased auto theft all mentioned within the past week or so.

What is being done about this increase in crime? This is no longer just a passing trend, this is getting serious.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:42 pm

scary. We frequent this BR a lot and usually at night. They have surveillance cameras. Were they not working?

Posted by Bobby
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Don't worry: the Council is hard at work on our Global Warming Policy and other issues much more important than the petty selfish concerns of those of you worrying about your personal safety and the rising crime rate in town.

Posted by Palo Alto way
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:48 pm

It has been shown in NYC--you step of enforcement of what many consider minor violations of the law and you stop major crimes. Called "quality of life" policing, I believe
Here in PA you let Boyarsky and Ojakian get away with having their dogs off leash and now you have armed robberies at BR.

Posted by Dave
a resident of Monroe Park
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:50 pm

I am sure the Council would be more concerned if the robber had tried to carry away his loot in a plastic bag...the guy must have brought his own environmentally friendly reusable bag.

Posted by Jane
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:51 pm

I certainly support the idea of monitoring the access to Palo Alto from East Palo Alto.

Its not difficult to do as there is only Willow, Page Mill, Embarcadero and University. Properly placed cameras could record license plates and occupants faces.

I also support stickers for residents, this could help deter crime and maybe help with parking on residential streets close to downtown, I pity the people who live there.

It is time to implement a broken window policy re crime in Palo Alto.

The thought of having armed criminals, many on drugs, roaming our streets and neighborhoods is a nightmare that must and can be stopped.

Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Does BR use plastic bags? We've trying hard to get a policy against those. Are we putting in the same effort on getting rid of crime in our city?

Posted by jr
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 11, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Giuliani's "zero tolerance" roll out was part of an interlocking set of wider reforms, crucial parts of which had been underway since 1985.

Giuliani had the police even more strictly enforce the law against subway fare evasion, and stopped public drinkers, urinators, and the "squeegee men" who had been wiping windshields of stopped cars and demanding payment. Rates of both petty and serious crime fell suddenly and significantly, and continued to drop for the following ten years

Similar success occurred in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the late 1990's with its Safe Streets Program.

This program was extensively reviewed by NHTSA and published in a case study Web Link

Posted by Palo Alto way
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Well, as others have pointed out on this thread and others, our council is more concerned with global environmental problems instead of fixing what is wrong here.
Maybe what we need to do is show up in force at the city council meeting and make a lot of noise about the rise in crime. we all know that what gets action from the city council is a vocal group of people--we do not need many to get the city council moving--the loder they scream the quicker the action from the council.

Posted by Glen
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2008 at 3:27 pm

When is the next meeting of the Gloabl Climate Change/Palo Alto City Council?

Posted by Don't be naive
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 3:28 pm

Jane, what makes you think all criminals come from East Palo Alto, we've got our own criminals living right here in Palo Alto. You've only got to look at the website for sex offenders to know that.

Posted by GMC
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2008 at 3:33 pm

We are starting to reap what all the raging libs have sown. Thanks guys!

Posted by Jane
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 11, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Well the answer to where the violent criminals come from is easy to answer, the DA has the residence records of those convicted of violent crimes and robberies in PA. and its not where those who fiddle their stock options live.

Cameras to record who is coming into Palo Alto could be in place in a week.

If you want you can call for them to monitor access from Stanford and Portola Valley, but they have not declared a state of Violent Crime Emergency in those districts, unless I am mistaken.

Its time to drop the PC talk and get real

Our lives and those of our children are at risk

Posted by Rebecca
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 11, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Call me a raging liberal but it seems to me that things are getting desperate for some and they are beginning to turn to turn to desperate measures.

Not an excuse, just a possible explanation.

Posted by mike w b
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 11, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Its a naive act of denial to claim that we are not impacted by the explosion of violence in East Palo Alto.

The number of assaults with a firearm in East Palo Alto during the first quarter increased from 35 in 2007 to 48 this year, according to police.

That is a 30% increase. Time to install the cameras now!

Do you want to wait until some PA high school student working in a store is shot

Posted by neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 11, 2008 at 3:58 pm

This is really scary, we are talking real crime with guns, I am afraid our city may have earned the reputation of easy pickings. We need to change that.

Posted by James T.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2008 at 4:56 pm

I can not believe that people are actually considering putting cameras up at entry points in the city! And I truly am shocked that there are those considering placing stickers on our vehicles. I also ask the same question that a previous poster asked, what do you expect to happen, the police to stop each and every vehicle that doesn't have a sticker?? Let's face the unfortunate fact, crime is rising.

I could be wrong, but didn't we have over 100 police officers at some point during the 80's and 90's and now I am sure that it is much less. Why don't we consider increasing our police department size? This will have a direct impact on crime, while still keeping our constitutional right to privacy and against government intrusion in place. Cameras and stickers aren't the answer, more police officers seems a bit more appropriate.

Posted by TD
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 11, 2008 at 5:23 pm

"During the burglary, he wore a motorcycle helmet"

this is not a burglary, this is an ARMED ROBBERY

big difference

Posted by steve
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 11, 2008 at 5:40 pm

I cannot believe that anyone would object to have stickers for the cars of Palo Alto residents, it is normal practice in many communities-

would you prefer to have gated communities as they have in LA?--- because that is what will come here real fast when a kid is shot by one of these criminals

CCTV cameras are also normal practice in many communities, I just got back from a trip to England and they are everywhere-- remember how they solved the subway bombing case?

They were initially installed to capture the IRA when they were bombing

I think the real estate businesses in town should help lobby for these measures to be installed immediately--- to protect their own interests--because I tell you --if something is not done soon I am moving my family to a safer community.

All this preoccupation with the global community issues is fine but it does not mean much if you are living in fear, in a wheelchair or six feet under ground

More police is not the answer, there has not been an outbreak of crime among Palo Alto homeowners.

The problem is easy to solve if we track who is entering Palo Alto

Just look at the firearm incident at Jack in the Box this week-- the police have the car, they have the gun they will have the DNA because he crashed the car.

If we know the time and identity of vehicles entering and leaving PA around the time violent crimes are committed its is a simple matter to track down suspects fast.

A few well publicized cases and the crime in PA will stop-- unfortunately it may move somewhere else--- but the more of these violent criminal we get of the streets the less likely that is.

Part of the problem is that we are now seeing the release of violent criminals who were incarcerated during the crack epidemic years ago

These ex convicts are hardened, ruthless and lethal, so my law enforcement friends tell me.

Posted by SB Sneetch
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 5:50 pm

Hear, hear! Those robbers are all coming from EPA. And stickers aren't the solution. Tatoos are! Since we know those ruffians are the type to like tatoos, let's tatoo a star on all their foreheads. Any outsiders to our fine city should get branded so we can be on the alert. See a star-headed hooligan coming down your street? Draw your shades, gather up your kids and lock the doors.

See if we do it the other way around - stickers on our cars or stars on our foreheads, they'll try to steal our stickers or copy our stars. We wouldn't want to be confused with one of them, now would we. We're too good for that.

Posted by sue mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 11, 2008 at 5:59 pm

It is sick that some people see the situation as amusing, they must not have children to worry about.

In EPA The city recently installed a "shot-spotter" system that pinpoints gunshots in several areas of the city, resulting in officers arriving at the scene almost before neighbors call 911.

In one recent incident, that led to a car chase over the Dumbarton Bridge and the eventual arrest, in Union City, of three gang members and the recovery of three guns.

We do not need "shot- spotters" in Palo Alto yet, but we do need CCTVS and ways of monitoring who is coming in our neighborhoods.

If you are not a criminal why would you be bothered about being monitored?
It is done at airports, in stores, banks etc

We pay a lot of money to live in Palo Alto and send our kids to safe, good schools. We have a right to protect our interests and children.

Posted by McNulty
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 11, 2008 at 6:07 pm

I'm sure that there are bad guys coming in from EPA, but we don't know for sure, so I don't think we should get distracted by an "our town vs. your town" fight. There's plenty of slezebags to go around between PA, EPA, MV, SJ, SC, MP, etc.
I'm worried about the coming months, though. With regards to the burglaries, I think this summer is going to be bad - if there's already an increase, its going to get worse when it gets hot and more people leave their windows open. With regards to the robberies, as more crimes go unpunished, I think the sense of opportunity among the bad guys will increase as well.
To Rebecca above, there could be a correlation between economic conditions and crime, of course, but ultimately, if you or your family or friends were in that Baskin and Robbins when it was robbed, would you care why?

Posted by sue mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 11, 2008 at 6:16 pm

>>>'m sure that there are bad guys coming in from EPA, but we don't know >>>for sure, so I don't think we should get distracted by an "our town >>>vs. your town" fight. There's plenty of slezebags to go around >>>between PA, EPA, MV, SJ, SC, MP, etc.

There has not been an explosion in shooting, 45 in the last 3months, in these other communities, nor have they declared a Violent Crime Emergency.
We need to face reality and protect ourselves with simple monitoring measures. Once the violent criminal experience the crack down they will leave Palo Alto alone.

Softer communities will then follow our example or be victimized themselves.
Enough is enough

Posted by Inquisitve
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 11, 2008 at 6:50 pm

"Call me a raging liberal but it seems to me that things are getting desperate for some and they are beginning to turn to turn to desperate measures.

Not an excuse, just a possible explanation."

Actually, a better explanation is the multiple drug busts around the bay area-- one of which was widespread by the DEA a few weeks ago. This caused a shortage of supply while demand has not shifted so therefore the prices for various drugs jumped significantly.

Economic problems are hurting everyone, and I don't think very many members of the workforce are resorting to crime because of it. I think that doesn't give very much credit to basic human decency.

Posted by Practical
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 11, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Several problems with using cameras:

Someone has to maintain them 24/7 and someone has to review the 24 per day hours of tape. This is known as labor intensive which translates to very expensive.

The Bay Bridge uses cameras to record fast track non-paying cars. They are having difficulty recording license plates, let alone faces, and these are known lawbreakers.

During the day more than 30,000 non-resident cars (no stickers) enter our city. How would you know which ones carried criminals?

In addition to the entry roads mentioned above there are San Antonio, Alma St. north and south, Middlefield north and south, Page Mill from the west, Stanford Ave. from the west, and El Camino north and south. All in all a herculean and expensive effort.

Posted by tv crimewatcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 6:58 pm

From watching UK crime dramas on PBS, the Brits do it by having cameras everywhere, but nobody watches them unless there is a reasonably good chance that a known crime has been caught on tape. Then the experts look at the tapes and with computer enhancement, the baddies get caught. Now I know that scriptwriters are involved here, but there must be an element of truth in this. After all, as someone said, they found the London bombers, the Glasgow airport bombers and those trying to make bombs on planes with soda bottles.

Seems to me that they are on the right track.

Posted by steve
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 11, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Actually it is not a "herculean and expensive effort", as you only heed to review the recordings for the time around the crime.

Start with access directly from EPA, if we find there is a Violent Crime Emergency on Campus involving Stanford students and faculty then we will have to expand coverage.

As most of these crimes take place at night when there is less traffic it will be an easy task.

I am sure that some clever engineer can come up with an image identification system that will automate the task, in fact some pretty good ones already exist as a spin off from homeland security research and the applications used by casinos.

In Europe speeding tickets are issued through CCTVs with the ability to capture the license and image of the occupant.

It is all very doable with off the shelf tech.

Also it should be easy to profile the kind of cars you are looking for, they will not be late model BMW etc further simplifying the task.

In terms of the 30,000 cars claimed to enter Palo Alto.

Well there is an easy source of revenue for the city.

People who work here could buy a special sticker for preferential parking.

Even the greens would like that, deterring people from taking their cars into town.

A Win Win for all but the criminals, who are bent on destroying our quality of life in Palo Alto.

Posted by paul
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 11, 2008 at 7:41 pm

every cloud has a silver lining

The advantage of tolerating these armed robberies is that families will leave in droves leaving cheap real estate for old people on fixed incomes, even the vagrants will move one for better pickings.

The tax base will evaporate as business flees, the infrastructure will decay and PA will return to the pastoral bliss experienced by the peace loving Indians, maybe bears and wolves will return.

The aged greens and hippies will be in Bliss

Stanford will erect a huge fence to protect their investment, they are not stupid, with a private road to the airport.

Don't worry be happy, as The distinguished Rodney King said, " cann't we all get along"

Posted by br
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2008 at 7:49 pm

br actually uses paper bags...

Posted by jr
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 11, 2008 at 8:00 pm

just goes to show bad things happen to good stewards of the planet.

BTW Are there any non plastic bullet proof shields we can install to protect the students who work in these know something like they they have in the liquor stores around Times Square in NY? except greenish.
How is our cities relationship with Iran going? oh Doris has gone
oh never mind we must keep our global perspective havent these armed robbers read our posts about these global issues?
Dont they know how noble we are? shame on them we need a march, where are the grannies, where is code pink when you need them.

Posted by practical
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 11, 2008 at 8:27 pm

There are many thousands of UK cameras; so when a crime is committed, there is often a camera at the scene. How would we know which car and occupants committed a crime with only a few cameras and none at the crime scene? Because most of the crimes are committed at night doesn't mean the baddies enter only at night or within the small time window when a crime is committed.

One should consider the labor cost of maintaining the dozen or more cameras proposed and changing and storing the tapes. Or developing and maintaining an image monitoring system. It still takes people to run such a system. Add to that the cost of issuing and monitoring stickers. I'll bet a cottage industry in counterfeit tickets would quickly arise.

It sounds like an expensive bureaucratic boondoggle with little return for hundreds of thousands of dollars invested.

Posted by Peter
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2008 at 8:29 pm

"If you are not a criminal why would you be bothered about being monitored?" This statement employs flawed logic. There are any number of legitimate reasons for being bothered by being monitored. One of the most prominent is that what the government decides is criminal behavior can easily change...this is not fantasy, read your history to see what the Soviet regime did. Study repressive regimes throughout history.
Legal behavior today could be illegal tonight or tomorrow. This is easily done: notice how the current administration attempts to circumvent U.S. laws and international covenants with secret legal opininons, executive orders, and fear-based legislation.

Other reasons include the fact that what I choose to do, short of criminal behavior, is basically nobody's damn business. If you walk with a limp do you want somebody reviewing survelliance tapes to laugh at your difference. If you gather, innocently, with friends should you be subject to interogation for "conspiracy"? And on and on.

Posted by wow
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 8:53 pm


above, talks about profiling the type of car people drive. Now, I am starting to find this scary.

I do live in Palo Alto, I don't rob ice-cream stores or commit any other crimes.... except that I do drive an old car that is definitely very different from a late model BMW. I do so, because, even though I live in Palo Alto, I don't have an infinite amount of money and must make choices as to what I spend my money on. A late model luxury car is at the bottom of my list.

Being profiled depending on the kind of car I drive? I know that has been done by my snobbish neighbors who have kept me out of their clique... but now by the police to rank me as a potential criminal?

Scary indeed.

Posted by No not me
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Placing cameras in public locations to take pictures of perfectly innocent people is a violation of our civil liberties.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2008 at 9:05 pm


If, on the other hand, while you were in a public location and you happened to be mugged and the camera got it and enabled the police to catch the mugger, would you feel any different?

Posted by KT
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2008 at 12:34 am

Bill, I think BR does use plastic fact, they probably put the money they gave the armed robber in a plastic bag...such a waste...I wonder if he will recycle it?

This is a horrible act of violence and probably isn't the end of the crime sprees considering the fact that our economy is going down the tubes.

It is absolutely absurd to initiate a sticker initiative for PA residents...are you out of your you realize how close other towns such as Mountain View and Redwood City are....and how labor intensive it would be for the cops to moniter every single car that came into Palo Alto?

There is absolutely no way for the police to be everywhere at all times to prevent crime. The way to really help is to stop the local government from increasing rents 50% without due cause or making people pay for plastic bags when they shop!! It is easy, lower the cost of healthcare, stop depriving people of money and the crimes that people commit to get money will be reduced* (* not completely stop).

BTW....this isn't an East Palo Alto problem...yeah, the cost of living in EPA is less, but criminals can come from anywhere. Recently, I just watched an episode of 48 hours mystery where this guy worked at the stock exchange in New York City...he lived the life of luxury and needed more money to keep up his what did he do....he started robbing banks. Why not? He was a white male with two kids, a wife and a beautiful house in the suburbs....anything to make ends meet. Please, don't blame these crimes on people who live in EPA; they deserve better than that.

Posted by We're going downhill fast
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2008 at 6:46 am

This whole discussion about putting cameras everywhere is mute. The Courts have already ruled that it is a violation of our civil liberties. Putting stickers on cars and monitoring cars coming into PA from EPA definitely discriminates against East Palo Alto residents.

The Supreme Court allows you to keep a gun in your own home to protect yourself. If you're scared of the baddies, buy a gun and arm yourself, and we'll turn into Texas-by-the-Bay.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2008 at 10:09 am

"If, on the other hand, while you were in a public location and you happened to be mugged and the camera got it and enabled the police to catch the mugger, would you feel any different?"

The mugger would get a slap on the wrist from the Courts, probably get probation, and let go. The jails are all full and California may be forced to release many thousands of offenders.

The answer, don't live in fear, carry on as normal and take your chances.

Posted by paul
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 12, 2008 at 1:10 pm

ask any one in law enforcement.

The best defense against the increasing wave of armed robberies and home invasions in Palo Alto is a well trained dog with a loud bark.

A dog is, in fact, better and safer than owning your own fire arm for home protection. The dog will scare criminals when you are away from home.

With their acute hearing and smell they can detect stranger at some distance and they will deter the invasion.

Criminals will simply not attempt to enter a premises where they can hear a dog barking.

The risk for them is too great and the dog will not be intimidated by the sight of a weapon.

You will also be doing your neighbors a favor because the criminal will leave the area immediately, they have lost the elements of stealth and surprise.

Similarly when walking the streets in daylight or at night no criminal will attack someone with a decent size dog.

Again the risk to the criminal is too great and the dog will not be intimidated by the brandishing of a gun by the criminal.

The criminal will fear being bitten and leaving their DNA, they will fear noise and attracting attention, they will leave the area and seek easier targets.

This said it is important to clean up after the dog, but dog owners in Palo Alto help deter armed robberies and home invasions.

Posted by Jane
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 12, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department will activate his department's new domestic satellite surveillance office in stages, starting as soon as possible with traditional scientific and homeland security activities -- such as tracking hurricane damage, monitoring climate change and creating terrain maps.

Sophisticated overhead sensor data will be used for law enforcement once privacy and civil rights concerns are resolved, he said.

The department has previously said the program will not intercept communications. Web Link

Posted by Cooper
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 12, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Neighborhood Watch and patrols for our community and property managers/owners providing a patrol for the shopping centers/districts is one suggestion. A combination of paid and volunteer effort and commitment.

If we are watching out for each other word will spread that Palo Alto is not easily targeted. We would be taking back our community as residents and business owners and not waiting for government to solve the problem- because they can't. We, as a community can come up with more effective solutions.

It could start with the neighborhood associations hosting meetings with the residents and businesses to discuss approaches to protect our community with the focus on prevention and deterrance.

Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 12, 2008 at 3:16 pm

My neighbors are not doing me a favor by keeping two large loud barking dogs. I'd much rather have quiet even if there is an increased risk of burglary.

Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 12, 2008 at 6:37 pm

I saw nothing about this incident in the PA Daily News or the SJ Mercury (both the same papers but on a smaller scale.) Did I miss something?

Posted by KT
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Mr. Wray, so these people leave their dogs out all day and night? Or do they bark occasionally when they are outside? I would say that if it is a constant bark all of the time and the dogs are strictly outside dogs then you have every right to complain. If, in fact, these dogs are in and out and bark on occasion (meaning like 3-4 episodes a day) then you have no right to complain. In the latter case you need to move to the countryside and forget about living in a neighborhood. I hope you can resolve your situation.

As for the criminals, I always call the police when I see a suspicious person in the neighborhood as well as any suspicious activity going it, what do you have to lose?....nothing. Also, make sure that you and your family members make sure to lock their car doors as well as the house doors and windows. Additionally, don't use the bank machine late at night, if there are shady people around, and try to go with someone else. Make sure that if you are in a situation where you are being robbed.....comply and don't try to fight back.

In terms of having a gun in the is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly. You need to be trained and you also need to go to target practice fairly regularly. I would say that getting a dog would be much safer than getting a gun. In most cases, a gun in the home will end up killing a loved one rather than a perpetrator that it is intended for.

Posted by MId Town Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2008 at 12:39 am

If we think EPA crime is the root of the problem, why not engage in some enlightened self interest? Palo Alto should invest in effective law enforcement services in East Palo Alto.

Implement the petty crimes crackdown from New York, or help them buy more shot-spotters, or buy up guns from the streets. Whatever it takes to convince the bad guys shape up or ship out.

Sell it to the lefties as a social intervention for the less fortunate, sell it to the grumps as a law and order program.

Honestly, we don't need to build a new police building in Palo Alto. We should be building one in EPA!

It would be the right thing to do for them and us.

Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 13, 2008 at 3:50 pm

KT, I think your priorities are mixed up. Cities are for humans and the countryside is for large noisy dogs.

Posted by KT
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2008 at 1:47 am

Mr. Wray,
Although Palo Alto is called a city it is really 'the burbs' and dogs generally tolerate suburbs pretty well. you must either have extremly good hearing or really poor insulation in your house. Maybe it is time to move to a well built countryside home....either that or get earplugs ;-P

Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 14, 2008 at 12:48 pm

KT, I'm sure you've given these suggestions to your neighbors, and I doubt they have worked for them either.

Posted by just thinkin
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2008 at 2:11 pm

I like the camera idea.....we could hire many of the various unemployed types to watch the monitor for each camera 24/7 and catch everyone in the act for everything - including pets of leash, not scooping, kids peeing in parks, bikes running red lights and everything else. The wage involved would only be about $300 per day per camera. Of course we can afford that!!!

Posted by sue mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 14, 2008 at 2:59 pm

some people do not seem to understand the tech of cctvs ---you do not load tapes it is all digital and you can precisely review the time frame when a serious crime is committed.

They will be both a deterrent to serious crime in PA and will provide evidence to convict the criminals and get them of the streets.

Increasingly the process is automated, for example the software can automatically identify license plates and therefore track who was in the area when the crime was committed

The are used very effectively in the UK and locations here such as nuclear power station, military sites, dams etc

Posted by IJustWorkHere
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2008 at 3:31 pm

You guys are too much! I'm glad I only go to Cold Stone for ice cream. All joking aside, don't you see how your snobby attitude and comments might have a negative effect on all this? The elitist approach of stickers on cars and cameras at entry points will only inflame those who feel desperate during these times and take these desperate measures to do worse things to those who look down upon them in such a way. No wonder my friends use to tell me that I was turning into a "above you" snob when I lived in this city.

Posted by liz
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Talking about snobs in Palo Alto see Web Link

The issue is armed robberies and the safety of our families in face of a violent crime way in EPA

Posted by KT
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Actually, I am very friendly with my neighbors and I would hope that they would say something if my dog was a nuisance. Also, whenever my dog barks I always quite her and make sure that nothing is going on.

Posted by daddy
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 15, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Absolutely NO to the sticker idea... distinction inevitably feeds into segregation.

I think increasing awareness and good old neighbordhood watch programs can go a long way. To be realistic, the city doesn't have enough money to hire more policemen or install CCTVs.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2008 at 1:44 pm

It might if it didn't spend money on destination Palo Alto.

Posted by some other guy
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 15, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Exactly how many inroads are there into Palo Alto? Unless you monitor each and every possible one, the bad guys will find a way into town which avoids the cameras.

Unless you have a camera in the vicinity of the scene of a crime, how are you going to match the perp with the 30,000 vehicles entering the city daily that you catch on camera? Without seeing the actual crime all you're going to have are recordings of vehicles entering the city.

If you want to go down the slippery slope, are the police going to pull over/follow/monitor every vehicle which doesn't have an official Palo Alto sticker? Or are they only going to do that if the car is being driven by a person of color, presumably from EPA? Are police going to pull over affluent African Americans who drive upscale but stickerless vehicles as has been done in Beverly Hills for years because the driver fits some profile?

There is more crime in areas of southern California in a week than there is in all of Palo Alto in an entire year. Yes, Palo Alto should be proactive in the prevention of crime, but the notion of turning the city into a giant gated community simply because the till got emptied at the local Baskin-Robbins is ludicrous.

Posted by jr
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 15, 2008 at 4:31 pm

The sort of criminals we are talking about are pretty impulsive, they do not plan to well and will take the shortest route to where ever they came from and that is no likely to be Stanford, probably Redwood City or EPA if not PA.

Remember that EPA was the murder capital of the USA over in the 1990s

many of the violent criminals from that era are now being released back onto the streets-- and they are lethal. In the last 3 months their have been 45 gun related incidents- that is huge for a population of EPAs size

The fact is that EPA has declared a violent crime emergency-- just yesterday it was reported that one of the gang thugs shot at a police officer.

With the needed crack down in EPA its is likely that violent criminals will seek easier targets here.
It is only prudent to prepare and think creatively about alternatives

I support CCTVs and citizens installing internet cameras at their homes and premises, the technology is very cheap these days and the knowledge that people are watching will deter and solve violent crime IMHO.

I do not mind being profiled, monitored etc because I have not and do not intent to commit a violent or any other crime.

We are monitored all the time in stores, banks , airports, offices and at the ATMs. When there is a march or demonstration in PA the PAPD video everything-- no body objects to that.

The Total Information Awareness program has already been implement by DARPA see Web Link

Law abiding people have a great deal less privacy than they think they do, we should apply the same principals to violent criminals in a rational and probabilistic way.

Posted by sr
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 15, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Let me guess, jr. You're caucasian.

Posted by jr
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 15, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Actually I am Asian, but more importantly I am an American, a parent and a tax payer.

Posted by another city
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2008 at 6:49 pm

Wow, i can't believe that someone would even suggest that people be monitored coming in from epa.. that is totally absurd,, just because someone lives in a lower economic city, they are suspects!! That is just crazy,,did you ever think maybe it was someone from palo alto who needed money for gas for his motorcycle, hence the helmet? Your getting paranoid palo altans,, just add that to the P's.. pretensious, now paranoid.. it happens everywhere,, get a big a** grip!!!

Posted by GeekFarmer
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2008 at 9:22 pm

I think what we need to do is keep all of the PA residents out of EPA. Do you think the poor people in EPA are keeping the drug dealers busy? It is amazing to me the number of nice cars that drive in to EPA from Embarcadero, go just a few blocks into EPA, "talk" to someone standing on a street corned, perform an illegal u-turn, and then return to embarcadero.....hmmmm....I'm guess they just got lost.

Get a grip on the reality people: much of the crime in EPA is driven by gangs fighting for the drug money which is coming from the other side of the freeway.

But looking at the posts here, I guess it is ok for people from PA to cross into EPA to help keep the drug trade going, but not ok for residents of EPA to spend their money in PA.

More reasons to shop at TJ in Mtn View!

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Palo Alto isn't an island, guys. We've got two major freeways running through and several major roads. We've got tons of people who come here to work, shop, eat, etc. In fact, economically, we rely on them to do that.

Why assume the robbers were from EPA? Yeah, it's got convicted felons, but so does Redwood City, Sunnyvale, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, San Lorenzo, Hayward, etc. We're part of a large urban area--if you can't deal with that and the attendant risks, there are more secluded and, yes, gated communities.

I did find the comment on higher drug prices interesting--a lot of this sort of crime is caused indirectly by drugs--i.e. getting the money to pay for them. I'm guessing the BR was picked because it's open relatively late and on a street where it's easy to get away. The other robberies, as I recall, were on El Camino--similar situation. Robbers, like the rest of us, probably can't find parking on University.

It's a litte dismaying just how willing people are to sign over their privacy in order to make themselves feel safer--I mean the idea of photographing every car entering PA doesn't even make sense given the crime.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2008 at 9:11 am

Photographing every car entering and leaving Palo Alto does not make sense. However, CCTV at the parking lots in Midtown outside Safeway, Longs, Walgreens, Baskin Robins, 7 11, Round Table, WAMU, etc. etc. does make sense. These cameras would be digital, not watched until after a crime occurs, and would not only be helpful in seeing the cars of the thieves after they arrive, but also in watching them arrive, getting out and getting ready to do the crime. It may even provide witnesses who are not even aware that they are witnesses because they didn't realise they knew anything.

Don't any of you ever watch to see how CCTV cameras have caught the London bombers of the Underground. They were seen arriving, buying their tickets and mixing with ordinary people. No one knew that they were going to create havoc, but after they had, they were seen. These cameras make sense. They are no invasion of privacy because innocent every day comings and goings are never seen by anyone. The only time they are watched is after a crime and can be found by time and scrutinized by experts who are looking for one thing, the criminals about to go about their crime. Those who are just innocently picking their noses or scratching their bums while waiting to use the atm or buy their ice creams are never ever seen.

Who are we kidding? Do we want to catch criminals and ward off future crime, or do we want to sit back and say I don't want my privacy invaded. I know that if someone did someone to me or my family, I would hope and pray that it got caught on camera somewhere and the culprits caught and charged.

Anything else is just an open door to crime. This is the 21st century and there are lots of people out there who can't be trusted. They don't wear striped jerseys, black eye masks and bags marked swagger. They look like the rest of us. We just have to be more careful and use the available technology wisely.

If we got strict on crime, the criminals would soon learn the message and go elsewhere to do their dirty work. If we don't and everyone else starts tightening up, then we will become sitting ducks for even more crime.

Let's act now.

Posted by julie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2008 at 9:25 am

I fully support CCTV around midtown,downtown, California ave and near our schools.

Lets catch these violent criminals and put them away for a long time.

I remember a time when families felt safe in Palo Alto, but those days are gone.

BTW there is a Caltrans camera at Middlefield and Oregon, you can view it on the web.

Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Cameras, catching criminals and putting them away are three separate issues. Putting up cameras is easy, but even if you know what someone looks like it can be hard to catch them (remember Osama?). Putting them away for a long time is also so expensive that our Gov. wants to let people out early. Our country has the highest incarceration rate in the civilized world, and we are running out of prison space. It is far more cost-effective to work at the root of the isssue and prevent crime in the first place.

Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2008 at 1:25 pm

The traffic cameras on Oregon Expressway have been put there by Santa Clara County Roads and Airports, since that is the organization that runs the expressways (not Caltrans). These cameras can be viewed at:
Web Link

They were designed to monitor traffic conditions, and you can tell by looking at some of the pictures that they would be useless in trying to pick out an individual's face or read a license plate. The angle of view is wrong, and the resolution and frame rate are not high enough for that application, but are fine for determining the traffic conditions.

Posted by julie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2008 at 1:31 pm

In one week we have had two gun incidents in Palo Alto that could have easily resulted in death.

The incident at Jack in the Box, the ARMED robbery in Midtown.

There may well be too many people in prison, maybe we should revisit the drug laws in some cases, focus on the big dealer not the addicts

But VIOLENT criminals need to be taken off our streets.

Nobody is going to drive for miles to rob and ice cream store or visit a fast food joint.

The PAPD have the car from the fast food incident they must already know where he is from. Tell us

Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 16, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Let's just give the criminals a hug.

We also have the largest economy in the world and the amongst the highest GDP per capita in the world. So, perhaps locking up criminals is a good idea. Law and order works.

While we're at it, let's stop allowing illegals to crowd our prisons. Around 50% of CA's prison population is made up of illegal aliens and 33% of the federal prison population is non-citizens. Perhaps there's a route cause that we're not dealing with effectively.

Posted by Matthew
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2008 at 12:32 am

This conversation has taken quite an uncomfortable turn.
There seems to be a strong streak of "us agin them" polarization going on here.

Scared is normal. Trying to examine every "outsider" is going over the edge. Anyone suggesting that have any idea of how many cars go through Palo Alto every day? Someone suggested video could be examined after the fact with the idea of deterrence. How would you know how long the folks had been in PA before the crime? How many cars would you have to examine?

And to those of us who're thinking we should pull over everyone who doesn't have a sticker (or who isn't white enough?), any idea how often non-white folks in Palo Alto (many of whom live here) have already been treated badly for having skin a few shades too dark? I've heard too much from friends and acquaintances on this score. It's an unconscionable approach.

Snobbery and ignorance often draw their own self-reinforcing punishments.

I can say with certainty that anytime someone is treated like they might be a thief, robber, or general "undesirable", you can bet some few will try to "live down" to your expectations because of the insult.

The memorable crimes for me, from Palo Altans:

- The husband of the local yoga teacher who killed his wife and
children because he thought he was going to lose his job.
- The fellow who bashed his wife's head in & then made it look like
she'd fallen down the stairs.
- The fellow recently who stabbed his brother to death.
- The young lady who ran over the 2 children, killing one, on her way to school and left the scene.
- Add your own here.

These weren't small time burglaries or robberies. And all of these perpetrators were white and who would certainly have stickers on their cars? Obviously, they weren't deterred by the idea that they might get punished.

Judging from the Palo Alto criminals, we may have more to fear from the people in our own houses. At least insurance will replace a stereo or TV stolen by those darned "outsiders" (or were those the neighbours kids?).

Perhaps we could calm down a little, cut back on the caffeine, listen to something a little more uplifting than the latest horrible news about the government (whether we're democrat or republican), war, etc.


Posted by laura
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2008 at 7:49 am

There has been a definite upswing in crime in our city. Car burglaries in every neighborhood, the assault on the girl on Harker, robbery at Jack in the Box and now at Baskin Robbins. Many teenagers work at Baskin Robbins - that person could have been killed. Are there not enough cops in this town? Instead of talking about a new police headquarters maybe we should hire more policemen.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2008 at 8:44 am


CCTV works in ways different from your perception. If, for instance, there had been a camera at the parking lot outside Baskin Robins, the camera would have seen the motorbike at the time of the crime. Backing up the camera could have spotted the motorbike arriving, seen the demeanor of the rider, seen if any of the neighboring cars had people entering or leaving them. Seen the licence plates of these cars and found any potential witnesses. These type of cameras do not have video but can be set to search by the time frame of the crime. This information solves crime. This type of information will deter criminals when they plan their crimes.

Yes, there will be the type of crimes that are horrible and maybe can't be prevented by cctv such as you mention, but it should make the planned violent robberies solvable and ultimately prove to be a deterrent.

Posted by Number Cruncher
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2008 at 11:03 am

" Around 50% of CA's prison population is made up of illegal aliens "

I've seen this number reported, but I just doesn't make sense to me. According to Public Policy Institute of California, in 2005, the demographic breakdown of prisoners in California was approximately:

Latino - 37%
African-American - 28%
White - 27%
Other - 7%

I know it doesn't all add up exactly, but I'm just eyeballing the numbers from a graph. This report is easily found in a Google search.

So how can 50% of all prisoners be illegal aliens? Even taking the ridiculous extreme of all the Latino and Other prisoners are illegal, that still doesn't add up to 50%. Are there that many illegal white and African Americans in prison?

Posted by ;
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 17, 2008 at 4:15 pm

''actually im asian'' your just saying that to sound ''fair''!

Posted by ??????
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2008 at 11:41 pm

Ok people, let's get real here. Monitoring EVERYONE that comes in and out of Palo Alto? What are you thinking? I am not an advocate of EPA, but not everyone that lives in that town is not a criminal. Thinking so is just as narrow minded as the KKK saying all races except the white race are evil. Besides, more then 50% of City employees working for Palo Alto do not even live in town...why? Because they can't afford it! What would tracking of every car/person solve?? This will not make the community safer. At least we don't live in Oakland where things like this happen every single day and aren't even reported in the news. Yes, I agree that something has to be done and the police must step up their presence, but blaming the "minorities", or all of EPA is not the answer to reducing crime.

a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2008 at 1:11 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Revolted
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Just love the censorship by this liberal bleeding heart paper. Allow the thugs to have their way, they must have been mistreated as children, oh poor misguided miscreants. Yeah, until one of them takes their robbery too far and one of our kids working at these places gets hurt....

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