Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 31, 2012

Sexual battery reported at Stanford Shopping Center

Assault may be second in Palo Alto by the same man, police say

by Sue Dremann

Police believe a serial sex offender may be roaming Palo Alto. For the second time in a week a man who is described as East Indian and about 30 years old has groped a woman in a public space.

On Wednesday, Aug. 29, at about 12:13 p.m., a woman in her 30s was walking in the parking lot of Stanford Shopping Center at 180 El Camino Real when the man grabbed one of her breasts, Palo Alto police stated in a press release.

The woman was on the sidewalk of Orchard Lane between Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. The unknown man stepped out in front of her from between two parked cars and grabbed her breast over her clothing. The man then ran away and was last seen in a parking lot along Welch Road, police said.

The victim immediately called 9-1-1 from her cell phone. Officers and detectives from the Palo Alto Police Department, assisted by deputies from the Stanford Department of Public Safety, conducted an extensive search but could not find the man. The victim was not injured, police said.

The assailant was wearing a yellow hooded sweatshirt with the hood up over his head. The victim said he was about 5 feet 9 inches tall with a medium build.

A similar sexual battery was reported Aug. 20 on Fulton Street. The victim, a woman in her 20s, was standing next to her vehicle and taking out her car keys when she was grabbed from behind. The man reached under her dress and grabbed her buttocks. He ran east on Hamilton Avenue, police said.

Detectives are investigating the cases and believe the same man might be responsible for both crimes. Patrol officers and plainclothes detectives are on the lookout for the man, police said.

Palo Alto police have listed a series of personal safety and crime-prevention tips on the City of Palo Alto website at cityofpaloalto.org/StopCrime.

The department urges awareness and reporting suspicious behavior immediately by calling 9-1-1.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

Comments

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I just heard this on 11 PM news on NBC Channel 3 TV...this is pretty scary. Please alert others to be vigilant. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] This seems like a pretty daring attacker and we need to get him in custody.


Posted by Peacemaker, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

Wish this freak tried something on me. I'd return the favor and give him a Nightmare to remember! Ladies, time for self defense classes!!


Posted by Not Injured?, a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2012 at 11:22 am

Every time something like this happens it causes psychic injuries to the victim as well as all women as our sense of safety is compromised. I guess we have to be more vigilant but the randomness of this type of crime is so disturbing. Thanks for the warning that there are creeps out there. He is in deep need of some mental health intervention. I hope he is apprehended before he does something even more disturbing in the "non-injury" realm!


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by moi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Dear Police Department Spokesperson:

Correction --

"The victim was not PHYSICALLY injured."

P.S. Thanks for all you do.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm

More crime in the Stanford Shopping Center, and still no surveillance cameras? Presumably they do have some cameras, but given how inexpensive this sort of equipment is, why in the world would they not extend surveillance out to the perimeter of their property?

It's a shame that the Palo Alto police seem incapable of talking about surveillance technology in a way that befits the fairly high level of intelligence that seems to gravitate to this area.

It would also be interesting to learn what expectations of safety a person has who has come to place like the Stanford Shopping Center? Certainly a few suits claiming a lack of adequate safety equipment might see some action on the part of the shopping center operator.




Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2012 at 12:26 pm

@Wayne Martin

Criminals go where the money is...do we now have to take additional steps at such places to prevent crime (well, yes, perhaps...but what methods...?
Stanford Shopping Center is privately owned and managed property and my guess is that they would legally have to post signs on posts stating "this area under surveillance" if they chose to install such cameras near the perimeter of the center's property. The reason I write this is I THINK Macys etc. has a sign at entrance (as they do near dressing rooms) stating the above. A criminal could sue, if he had not been notified in advance he might be video'd!
I am not an expert on these cameras by any means, but I have had the sense they they are not friendly and "appeaing" to an upscale public/outside visitors such as those who are patrons of the center; it may not fit with the image of an ultra-upscale center such as this one. In other words, an eyesore and semi-threatening. It might alarm visiting parents of Stanford students. The horrors!
I remember a letter to the editor (to one of our PA local newspapers in the past several yrs) from a family that came to tour Stanford and went over to shop at the center - their rental car was promptly broken into while parked in daylight and they were disgruntled about it. Trunk popped, as I recall. I don't know what they would have thought if they had seen signs showing an eye and noting surveillance cameras were in operation...would that "put them off" the place? Either way, I'm sure they would prefer to not get robbed. More security officers on Segways.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2012 at 12:29 pm

sorry, working on a poor keyboard...
"appealing" -- aside from the typo, what I mean is that a metal post every 100 feet with a sign on it stating "this area under surveillance" is an eyesore to upscale shoppers. I have no idea if the actual cameras would be visible and annoying to the shopping center visitors, if more were added around the property.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm

To sum it up: I doubt upscale centers like to discuss much about security measures, crime, and such - it's a distasteful topic to them. We - as nearby residents desiring less rather than more strong arm robberies in our region - can speculate all we want, but we won't know what they are going to do about it anyway. I guess we can request to the PA Police would they please urge the center to take security of shoppers (and businesses, of course) more seriously in light of criminal incidents, and hope they do so.


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