Man struggles with woman for purse at Stanford Shopping Center | News | Palo Alto Online |


Man struggles with woman for purse at Stanford Shopping Center

Thief seen leaving mall with two female associates

Palo Alto police are looking for a man wanted for robbing a woman of her purse at Stanford Shopping Center on Sunday. He was last seen leaving the mall with two female associates, police said.

He targeted a woman in her 60s, who had been sitting at a table outside McDonald's around 10:30 a.m. when he snatched the purse from her hands, police said. She yelled at him and tried to hold on the purse, but the man ultimately got hold of the purse and walked away without saying a word.

The purse was carrying the woman's cellphone and other miscellaneous property, police said.

The woman, who wasn't injured in the struggle, followed the man as he joined the two female associates and walked around the shopping center, police said. The trio was last seen heading north along El Camino Real towards Menlo Park.

She reported the strong-arm robbery to police about three hours later around 1:30 p.m., police said.

The robber was described as a black man who was about 19 to 20 years old, about 6 feet tall with a thin build and red-hooded sweatshirt, police said.

Both of the female acquaintances were described as black. One was heavy set and in her mid-20s; the other was in her late teens to early 20s, police said.

Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to call the police department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police free mobile app, downloadable at or


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27 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2017 at 10:42 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

If you are a victim of a crime, or see a crime, please call the police immediately. Every minute counts.

6 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 18, 2017 at 10:58 am

This does not sound right. Why would she just follow the thieves around the shopping center and not report it to police for three hours?! This sounds like a scam.

3 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 18, 2017 at 11:45 am

Oh, really? I can't imagine a 60-year old woman tailing 3 thieves through the shopping center, to El Camino, then waiting 3 hours to report the theft to the police. How phoney does this sound!!

40 people like this
Posted by Chris Gaither
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 18, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Remember folks, the purse contained her cell phone, and other personal items, perhaps like keys to home, or a vehicle. She would need to find a phone to place the call to the police to report the crime. That would be step one. In addition, when someone is a victim like in this case, she might have been bewildered, and startled by what occurred. The age mentioned is in her 60's. We don't know if that is early 60s or later 60s. Changes do occur both mentally and physically as we age. And, also, we don't know the victim's ethnicity or ability to function in English. Some cultures approach issues as such differently than others. Please don't throw her under the bus assuming that she is scamming someone. And, if this were a scam, what kind of scam would it be reporting that your purse was stolen? What could she possible get out of it as a scam? Lastly, I know someone very close to me who would probably react this way, very confused and startled as to what occurred, especially if something like this never has happened to the person. Let's show a little kindness, and civility over the issue. It could be you one day.

10 people like this
Posted by Mark Silverman
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 18, 2017 at 12:21 pm

>Remember folks, the purse contained her cell phone, and other personal items, perhaps like keys to home, or a vehicle. She would need to find a phone to place the call to the police to report the crime. That would be step one.

(1) A valid point that the others seemed to have overlooked. (2) The 'generic' description of the thieves probably means that the culprits will get away with this crime.

5 people like this
Posted by Stew Pid
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 18, 2017 at 1:18 pm

@Anonymous and @Barbara:
A bit quick to judge. And cynical, are we?

1 person likes this
Posted by Buck
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2017 at 4:13 pm

No phone around.????? clearly you havent been to Stanford mall then.. Every store has a phone people. Hell everywhere you look theirs someone with a phone. On top of that she waited 3hrs.??????? The window to catch these waste of space is over. Good luck finding them..

5 people like this
Posted by Unfortunate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2017 at 11:16 am

Sunday at 10.30am and there were no witnesses? Granted the mall is probably still quiet at the time of the morning, but still. Also, kinda wondering why she didn't run inside the McDonald's to report the incident immediately?

A's an aside, I have been approached as just after I got into my car at the mall, by someone who knocked on the drivers window and asked me for 'help' and when I asked what kind of help they needed, they said they needed money. I told them. I had no cash on me and left. I drove about a block and decided to go back and report the incident to security, because the incident was unsettling...kind of felt like am attempted mugging. It's one thing for someone to passively ask for money with a sign or what not, but it's something else when someone follows you to your car, and asks you for money. Feels very wrong. Mall security wasn't very helpful. Said they had had several reports like mine, but the Palo Alto police will not remove these folks from the premises, unless they actually commit a crime. So, be very mindful of who.migh be following you as you walk to your car. Oh, this happened on borax daylight.

Like this comment
Posted by Stanford Shopper
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 22, 2017 at 6:28 pm

That surveillance pic isn't very informative. (1) A 'back of the head' shot is useless.(2) It could be any small group of Afro-American shoppers at a mall (3) The only way the police can make any headway is through the misuse of any credit cards and/or unrelated cell phone usage.

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