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Woman smacks would-be robber with cane

Original post made on Nov 25, 2008

A 55-year-old woman walking with a cane fought off a teenage boy who attempted to rob her in a Palo Alto grocery store parking last Wednesday, police reported.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 9:16 AM

Comments (43)

Posted by Barron Park resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 25, 2008 at 9:37 am

Hurray to the woman for fighting back. Well done!

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2008 at 9:57 am

Actually, a better defense would have been to jam the cane into the bicycle's spokes, and then whack the boy if he tried to get up. "Just stay right there and I won't hit you. Try to get away and I'll whack you." Other shoppers would probably have come quickly to help.

But, whatever, the woman was not injured and she kept her purse. I just worry that the kids will take it as a learning experience and refine their approach on the next attempt.

Posted by Description of boys?
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2008 at 10:37 am

We need to be on the lookout and protect ourselves from these punk thugs.

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2008 at 10:51 am

I am a big guy, I am strong enough to defend myself, and I am usually not worried about this kind of assault. However, not all people are as big and able as I am. The recent assaults, you notice, have targeted people who looked less likely to be able to defend themselves. Therefore, I am on the lookout not just for myself, but for those around me. I would have LOVED for this punk to have tried to make his getaway past me after his theft attempt. "Gee, sorry about the shopping cart dude, shall we call the cops?"

We all need to look out for ourselves, and those of us who can should also be looking out for others. As for the thugs, I don't really want to hurt them, but I would like to give the police an opprotunity to chat with them.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2008 at 10:59 am

Description of the sususpects = ???

Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2008 at 10:59 am

Excuse me? My elderly mother, my daughters and I shop at that Safeway almost everyday of the week at ALL hours.


Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2008 at 11:12 am

I agree, I too would like a description of the suspects. I, and people like me, can only offer limited protection to those who happen to be near us. I feel that my mere presense mey deter thugs from trying anything on those around me, because I could be seen as a threat to them. But I cannot be everywhere, and the weaker members of our society cannot count of people like me to be there when they need help. We need to find and stop the thugs.

These thugs are just kids making bad and/or stupid choices. They may not yet be set in their ways, but are merely experimenting with different ways. Yes, they could (and probably will if not stopped) hurt someone, and we need to stop them before they do. I would hope that by catching them, the ones most likely saved will be the thugs themselves if they learn the lesson they need to learn.

I am willing to cut these kids some slack, after they are caught. If they were into their 20's, I might be more inclined to lose the key to their cell.

Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2008 at 11:25 am

The more I think about this the angrier I get. I am not inclined to cut ANYONE slack right now. Recent events in this City have effectively 'robbed' me of that kind of tolerance.

It's not always about them physically hurting the person. It's about the vulnerability of that VICTIM. They could have a heart attack out of fear. I know my mom is a fearful type. That is what frightens me most!

This is an entirely irresponsible newstory. We have Mayor Klien and the City Council to thank for this.

Palo Alto, remember who THEY are next election and oust them ALL. Time for a clean sweep in Palo Alto.

Meanwhile if the paper won't provide a description then we should call the police dept. directly and ASK. Again, I shop there EVERY DAY! I'll be ready, but there are others who won't be able to defend themselves.

Posted by No Slack Warrant
a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2008 at 11:33 am

A thief is a thief no matter what age, if they are old enough to do the crime; they are old enough to pay the price for that crime.

Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2008 at 11:41 am

If the PAPD will not give a DESCRIPTION, this now proves it is paralyzed into inaction for fear of 'racial profiling'. Does anyone doubt this was going to happen after the recent unjustified broohaha???

Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2008 at 11:50 am

And everytime they don't poast race, most will automatically INFER race, because no one ever has an issue with white suspects. That is what all the recent stupidity has wrought. In my opinion, it's worse. It makes you think about race, instead of taking in a description as a whole. Before I wouldn't have given the description much thought outside the realm as a cautionary measure. Now, look at what we all are asking!

Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Safeway on Middlefield Road opened in the mid 1960's so it was not there in 1925. That was all fields. I was there that day with a toddler in the cart basket. And in Palo Alto many eighty year olds - including me - do not consider themselves 'elderly'. Avenidas should offer classes in 'pepper spraying'. We'll get 'em.

Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Oh Kate, I like you! :) You GO girl...what a great attitude!

Frys sells pepper spray.

Posted by Ann
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2008 at 12:24 pm

"Any time I don't see race mentioned, I assume it was a white guy."

These kinds of views are so divorced from common sense, experience and the blaring headlines of recent weeks that one has to wonder if the comment is made in jest.

Does anyone else assume when the PC Media or the cowering PAPD public relations flacks fail to mention race it means a white guy did the crime?!

No wonder we have so much difficulty dealing with the crime problems in town.

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Funny you should mention pepper spray, I have been considering building a walking stick with a pepper spray built into the stick, just above the hand hold. Just stick your thumb in the hole on the back of the stick, guess what comes out of the hole on the front. The trouble with pepper spray is that you have to stop and fumble for them. "Hang on, I'll be right with you, I just need to get something out of my purse,...." Nawwwww,...

Try this: "Could you say 'Gimme yer purse' again and smile real big? Did you know this stick can also be used to whack naughty boys who don't hold still?"

I like the non-lethality of pepper spray.

Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2008 at 12:38 pm

Just me, would that work? A walking stick is pretty long and the pepperspray blast is a short burst...

My girls both have stun guns. I am considering buying one for myself. Targetmasters in Milpitas carrys those and may even have some new longer range pepper spray options.

a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2008 at 12:46 pm

Hello all. I called Target Masters (Milpitas) and checked it out. They have a 6 inch tall by one inch diameter can of pepper spray that will project about 10-11 feet. Price $13.99. Reasonable. Best thing? The spray has a DYE in it, so the cops if they get there quickly enough, will have no problem figuring out who did what.

They DO have stun guns in stock as well.

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Pepper spray on a stick would be just as effective as in your hand, because the canister would essentially be in your hand. The bonus to having it attached to the stick is that it would be right near your hand at all times, easy to get at if needed. the spray would come out perpendicular to the stick, not from the end. You would hold the stick normally, move your hand up six inches, re-grip, and spray. The canister would be enclosed in a little karbunkle on the side of the stick and would have to spray outward like a can of hairspray. Pretend you are holding a walking stick, not a cane. Look where your thumb is. It would be in the hole on this stick.

Posted by Tito
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 25, 2008 at 1:10 pm

AWESOME!!!!! Hit 'em again!!!!

Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Why wait until the next day to file a police report? It seems like it would be a good idea for the police to know, not to mention other shoppers. This woman was lucky. Who says Safeway was there in 1925?!?! Dream on.....

Posted by descript
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 25, 2008 at 4:45 pm

The suspects are two black male juveniles. 5'3 and dark complected.

Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 25, 2008 at 4:52 pm

As mentioned earlier by another poster, the whole situation has gotten worse after some of the city leaders failed to support our police chief when she was doing her best to protect us. It's now clear that politically correctness is the top priority for some of our elected officials, but when I read about crimes like this, it's also clear that more drastic measures are needed. One important step we should all take as residents of this community is to remember the elected officials who are contributing to this mess, and make sure they don't get elected again.

Posted by Nick
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 25, 2008 at 5:04 pm

You people need to take a deep breath. Teenagers do dumb stuff, this isn't anything new. There seems to be a lot of nervousness about race in this chat. Even sticking up for poor ol' Lynne Johnson who was just trying to question the black people as to what they were doing in Palo Alto. That Safeway is a safe place and you don't need to go out and buy a gun now. If anything just be aware of your surroundings and use a little street smarts.

Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2008 at 5:26 pm

'Dumb stuff' is crank calls and smashing someone's punpkin.

Going after a woman for her purse is CRIMINAL stuff.

Gimme a freakin' break.

Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2008 at 5:33 pm

And RACE was not the 'issue' until Mayor Foster, Dr.Knox then our own paper and City Council made it thus.

It was a descriptor, nothing more. NOW it's an issue.

Way to go Palo Alto City Government. Hope you are all OUT next election! YOU are now our issue as well.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 25, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Once again the PC liberal media is aiding and abetting the criminals. But it gets worse. It is bad enough that readers don't know what the race of the suspects is. Someone who would suppose the suspects were black could now be slowly lulled into complacency and, seeing two black teenagers on bicycles with baseball bats think they had just gotten done playing baseball and had no criminal intent (as they might if they saw two white teenagers).

But no, it gets worse.

Now the police are expressly forbidden to even ask the victim for any description which might lead to anything racial. The intended victim was heard to say a "P" or "B" sound and the officers had to quickly "SHUSH" her on the spot----their billy clubs were at the ready and they would have surely clubbed the woman in order to silence her racial description. As it was either a "P" or "B" one onlooker heard, it is hard to say if the word was either "Black" or Pacific Islander"....if only she could have finished the sentence.

The woman is under a gag order.

Meanwhile an angry crowd has gathered outside the police dept. shouting "DESCRIPTION, DESCRIPTION, WE WANT A RACIAL DESCRIPTION".

Finally Americans are standing up for their rights!

Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Personally before all this crap I WOULD have thought that two young black kids holding baseball bats HAD just come from playing baseball. Wouldn't have given it a second thought.

Ironically in your facetious post you just about hit the reality nail on the head.

Except it's NOT we want a RACIAL description. We want a complete and accurate description. When you step over the line as a criminal you lose your right to relative anonymity.

Posted by big al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2008 at 6:34 pm

where are the raging grannies?
this seems like a good case for them to
vent all of their rage-or our domestic
issues beyond their scope? They could
gather more recruits and they could even
use this as an oppurtunity to patrol the streets
like the guardian angels that they are.
Besides, they'd look pretty intimidating wearing
a beret.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 25, 2008 at 7:18 pm

"....all this crap..."

So if the very few cases of muggings now have some about ready to throw in with some racist agenda or mindset......

what if there had been something truly serious going on?

If it was SF during the zebra killings....

You were a white settler in Kenya during the Land and Freedom revolt (Mau Mau)?

History is full of more severe examples....

If this is all it takes for a (supposedly) liberal community to go off the deep end into pathetic racist hysteria, one has to wonder what the end point would be if the situation (choose economic background and/or racially charged occurances) were more stark.

a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2008 at 10:59 pm

To A Noun Eats A Moose:

As of November 17, a week ago Monday, there have been 18 strong arm street robberies since JUNE. That doesn't include recent activities and every other type of crime, including breaking and entering, and theft.

Anoun isn't an intellectual. He is ... [Portion removed due to some other violation of terms of use] a pseudo intellectual. An 'intellectual' would have looked up the facts before stating: 'So if the very few cases of muggings now have some about ready to throw in with some racist agenda or mind set......"

EIGHTEEN? VERY FEW? Yuh. Tell me anoun, do cars fly and Scottie is transporting people thus manipulating the space/time continuum in YOUR world? Can women vote and minorities own property? I guess this forum is a time portal for you...COS YOU AIN'T IN REALITY HERE.

Posted by Jay Thorwaldson
editor emeritus
on Nov 26, 2008 at 12:26 am

Jay Thorwaldson is a registered user.

As to the descriptors of the two youths, the story that was posted was from the Bay City News Service based on a report by police Agent Dan Ryan. We had no additional information available when we posted the story Tuesday morning. In addition to missing descriptions of the boys beyond estimated ages, we have asked why it took from Thursday (when the incident was reported) until Tuesday morning (when Bay City News posted it) to get the news out on a potentially hazardous situation in Midtown of two young men harassing and attempting to steal from an older woman.

a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2008 at 1:55 am

Thank you Mr. Thorwaldson, I for one was really hoping you weren't going to start leaving out details which could be crucial to public safety.

Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2008 at 7:39 am

How about Safeway taking some responsibility for safety of shoppers in their parking lot?

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 26, 2008 at 9:22 am

I am not opposed to any paper printing as full a description as possible of any criminal suspect. And that includes race. (I wonder why the age was initially listed as 15 and not "approx. 14-16"?).

But I have to wonder at the citizenry outrage that the race of the suspects wasn't initially publicized. And that a lack of such information could be contributing to a lack of public safety.

What possible untoward scenario is envisioned in such a stance?

That some future elderly female shopper at Safeway will walk out and pass two black teenage boys and not be worried because of a mindset that "I read the story about the earlier attempted mugging but assumed they were white---so these black youngsters don't worry me at all"? And then be successfully mugged because her guard was down?

The only real downside is that their goal of whipping up racist hysteria has not been given the fuel they feel that fire deserves.

Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 26, 2008 at 10:02 am

Ferpetesake, the victim was FIFTY-SIX and THAT AGE is not elderly. So what if she was using a cane? Maybe she had hurt her leg. I saw a star Stanford basketball player in Safeway after surgery USING A CRUTCH. It makes no difference how old the person was or male or female. Two punks attacks somebody. It could have been a mother dealing with groceries and a toddler. Safeway, like all grocery stores, this week, last week and the four to come are wall to wall people. Everybody - have your cell phones ready and TURNED ON
Police dispatch is 329-2413.

Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2008 at 3:42 pm


Heck, call this a police report?

Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 26, 2008 at 5:05 pm

You want a description? I'll give you the perp's description: ambiguous gender development, average height, average weight, average hair color and length, average skin color, wearing average clothes and riding an average bike. This person should be easy to spot. Let's put out an APB. I hope I haven't offended anyone. Next time I'll be more PC.

Posted by anon
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 26, 2008 at 5:20 pm

The description of the suspects are 2 black male juveniles approximately 5'3. Both were dark complected and thin build.

Posted by Newcomer
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2008 at 7:19 pm

I feel so unprotected now that to my own shame feel like keeping my distance from anyone who does not fit the profile of a typical PA resident.

Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 27, 2008 at 2:06 am

We only see color when others MAKE us see color.

Mayor Foster. The two loser troublemakers who tripped up the Chief. Mayor Klein. The City Council. That Reverand whatever his mame is. Dr. Knox. This paper for calling on the Chief to resign. Stanford students. Marchers. A noun eats moose.

THIS is why we now see color. Thank the people above for this and wherever possible, FIRE THEM by voting them out of office when the time comes.

Posted by Just wondering
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 27, 2008 at 9:26 am

If the victim were a man in his 50s, would he be described as "elderly" and "old" by so many posters, including the Weekly's editor? Bear in mind that the woman is just a few years older than our president-elect, who is frequently described as young.

Posted by trudy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 27, 2008 at 10:49 pm

In their fifties, a lot of people start having medical problems, as the "limited mobility" description would seem to indicate.

I used to regret moving from Palo Alto to the New England boonies, but I can't believe how dangerous PA seems to have gotten since I moved away. I used to walk outside in the evenings in Palo Alto with hardly a thought for safety. Thank God I can still do that at my new home.

Posted by just wondering
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 28, 2008 at 3:26 pm

People can have "limited mobility" at any age. But it's sexist to apply age labels to any women over, say, 45, when men don't become "elderly" until 75 or so.

As an "elderly" mother of preteens, I don't feel unsafe walking around Palo Alto, nor do I worry about my kids being attacked. I worry a lot more about drivers who speed or ignore stop signs. And since many teenaged boys have atrophied muscles from spending most of their time playing video games, I'm probably stronger than the average attacker too. Not bad for someone who used to babysit Methuselah.

P.S. If I'm elderly, what does that make my mother?

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