A 7-Eleven employee was targeted in a strong-arm robbery Monday morning, when two people followed her from East Palo Alto to Palo Alto, where they purposely collided into her car and took her money, police said Wednesday.
The robbery on Newell Road near the East Palo Alto city border was reported to police dispatch around 9:40 a.m. Officers quickly responded to the scene, but were unable to locate the robbers who left in a sedan, Palo Alto police said.
A woman in her 30s, who works at the 7-Eleven at 77 Newell Road in East Palo Alto, was leaving the business with plans to make a deposit at a Palo Alto bank, police said.
The woman was driving on Newell and Edgewood roads, which falls within Palo Alto city limits, where she was rear-ended by the sedan, police said.
A man riding in the sedan went up the woman, apologized for the collision and recommended she take a picture of the damage, police said.
The woman took the man's advice and stepped outside of her car with her cellphone, which the man snatched from her hand, police said.
He then ran into her car and took her bag carrying thousands of dollars in cash for deposit sitting on the front seat before running back to the sedan and getting into the passenger seat. The driver, who had been in the car throughout the incident, then drove south on Newell Road, according to police.
Another driver who witnessed the events unfold alerted police.
The woman was not injured in the robbery or collision, which left her car with minor damage, police said.
A subsequent investigation found that the alleged robber briefly visited the convenience store while the sedan was parked outside from about 8:50 a.m. until the woman drove away around 9:40 a.m., police said. It appears the man and his driver were waiting for the employee to leave.
The woman's cellphone was later found in downtown Palo Alto by a man who said it was dumped at University and Woodland avenues in East Palo Alto, police said. Officers don't suspect the man played a role in the collision and theft.
The man who took the woman's phone and money was described as a black man who was in his 20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall. He reportedly had black hair and wore a loose white T-shirt with a logo and khaki pants.
Security footage from 7-Eleven showed he wore a gray hooded sweatshirt with an orange logo on the front and orange drawstrings from the hood while inside the store, police said.
The driver of the sedan was described as a Pacific Islander man in his 20s wearing a black T-shirt, He had brown, curly, long hair, police said.
The sedan had four doors and a yellow paper license plate on the front, according to police.
East Palo Alto police are assisting Palo Alto detectives in identifying the two men, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org 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 bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.