News


Bicyclist's purse reportedly snatched near Homer tunnel

Palo Alto resident said her money was taken after an encounter with a group of students

A Palo Alto bicyclist on the path near the Homer Street tunnel said her purse was snatched from her bike after she stopped to talk to a group of students shortly before noon Friday.

Shannon McEntee said she was biking north on the pathway next to the Caltrain tracks, close to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, when she saw about a dozen students standing in her way.

She said she tried to pass the students, but when they wouldn't move, she stopped and talked to the boy immediately in front of her.

"I said, 'Hey, I want you to be safe, and I want to be safe. Don't do things like that,'" McEntee told the Weekly.

She then biked to a meeting downtown, but when she got there, she noticed the purse that she'd had on her bicycle's pannier was missing. After the meeting, McEntee said she went home and, realizing that the purse wasn't there either, figured that one of the students snatched it.

Returning to the bike path, McEntee said, she saw the purse on the ground, over the fence and just west of the train tracks. McEntee then went to the downtown police station to file a report, but after waiting about 50 minutes, she decided to retrieve her purse instead.

Upon opening her purse, she looked inside and was relieved to see her phone and her wallet, which still contained all her credit cards but not roughly $250 in cash she'd had.

McEntee, 68, said she then went to Palo Alto High School, called the police and met an officer there who took her report.

She said the purse-snatching did not appear to be premeditated so much as opportunistic. The boy who stepped in front of her, she said, appeared to be "very nice," but someone saw the encounter as a chance to take the purse.

"They just wanted to annoy me," she said.

Palo Alto police confirmed McEntee reported the incident and said officers are investigating.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the police department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.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.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

14 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2017 at 9:22 pm

“They just wanted to annoy me,” she said.

I work with a lot of kids and find most to be unaware of their surroundings and just plain dumb. Probably not the brightest group either since its a pack large enough to block the path. Have you ever seen a large group of Ivy League caliber students together??? No, because they are too busy getting stuff done and there aren't enough around to make a large group.

In the end, they didn't mean to annoy YOU, so don't take it too personal.

Just be glad you:

-live in Palo Alto
-ride a bike
-have $250 CASH available
-didn't get hurt or attacked like the lady three weeks ago in the tunnel.


44 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 16, 2017 at 9:49 pm

I suggest that you borrow a copy of last year's Paly yearbook and identify the perps yourself. If you let it go, they will continue to bully city residents.


12 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Was there no description of the perps?


2 people like this
Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2017 at 11:33 pm


What time of day?

During lunch and break hours there are packs of kids at Town & Country but they have to go back to class and don't stay around (all at the same time). Maybe there are some regulars smoking by the tracks but a big crowd could be something else going on, or they are not from Paly.

High School kids are as occupied as college students these days.


5 people like this
Posted by Bart
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 17, 2017 at 7:13 am

@nancy
Thanks for the dose of reality!


14 people like this
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 17, 2017 at 9:20 am

There was a special event at Paly on Friday, so the kids had 90 minutes for lunch that day. If true, it's a shame this is how some of them chose to spend it.


21 people like this
Posted by Greed
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 17, 2017 at 9:32 am

The Low moral character of Palo Alto children mirrors the low moral character of Palo Alto parents and schools. This community only cares about "getting Mine" with little concern for the people hurt by their actions. I am not surprised that these kids callously sold money. The cheating statistics at Paly are appalling. They have no honest role models in this community, and especially at the schools. The kids have intimate and timely knowledge of the scandalous events by teachers, admin, and other students at Paly that we are only just now hearing about now. The kids are only modeling behavior that they see, are taught, and are exposed to. I would be surprised if they the kids didn't steal.


19 people like this
Posted by Former Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 17, 2017 at 9:45 am

As a former parent of Paly kids, if this is what some kids did on Club Day I am deeply saddened. However, it is not reflective of all just a very small subset.

Say that, I would say that for so many teens nowadays in Palo Alto, there is school and very little else for them in life. Family life is often very difficult with 2 working parents or single parent at home, which translates into no family time at dinner each day around the table and the pressures of homework and college taking center stage. For those who do have an interest such as sport, music or drama, the competition there is just as pressurized.

We do need to bring back some family values and some form of non challenging and non competitive free time into the lives of our children. Teenagers have for decades wanted to get their kicks, and I suspect if they stole it was for the kicks and possibly not just for the money.

Family values and quality down time are necessary and sadly lacking nowadays in the lives of Palo Alto teens. Very sad all round.


15 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2017 at 8:57 pm

I don't doubt that the encounter happened as described. But I do doubt that a mob of high schoolers were gathered just hoping that someone with a purse in a bike basket would come by. You'd have to wait a LONG time for that! How many unsecured purses do you see on bikes?

It seems much more likely that purse fell out - perhaps when she had to stop abruptly because these kids were obliviously and inconsiderately blocking the path - and then someone (anyone who uses the path, not just the HS kids) took the money and chucked the purse over the fence.

I'm sorry that this lady lost her money. And if the kids took money from her dropped purse shame on them. But let's not make this into a preplanned act by a bunch of hooligans.


10 people like this
Posted by Jorge
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 18, 2017 at 7:23 am

Why are people surprised about this behavior? Rich spoiled kids have been around since the beginning of time. Whomever did this is well on their way to becoming a statistic later in life for a much worse crime than this. Even if the person is caught and the parents notified will make little difference. That is a fact.


3 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 18, 2017 at 8:54 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 18, 2017 at 9:18 am

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by @Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 18, 2017 at 10:47 am

You wrote, "But let's not make this into a preplanned act by a bunch of

FYI, you'll be less annoyed with the articles if you pause to read them first. Here's what you missed:

"She said the purse-snatching did not appear to be premeditated so much as opportunistic. The boy who stepped in front of her, she said, appeared to be "very nice," but someone saw the encounter as a chance to take the purse.

"They just wanted to annoy me," she said. "


7 people like this
Posted by Blame is an instinct
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2017 at 11:05 am

^^^ How does she know whether it was premeditated or not, let alone whether it was even snatched if she didn't even notice her purse was gone until well after the incident? Maybe it was "snatched" or maybe it was unsecured and fell out. I know I have lost things before and my first thought has been "who stole it" because of course I remember exactly where I left it. Then ten minutes later, oops, it was in another drawer.


1 person likes this
Posted by almunday
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2017 at 11:58 am

[Post removed.]


17 people like this
Posted by Shannon
a resident of Mayfield
on Sep 18, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Additional facts: it was a group of about 10-12 students, both boys and girls, blocking the path. They were not intentionally trying to stop me, they were merely not paying attention. This happened at 11:50 am and I realized the purse was gone when I reached my destination at Ramona and Forest about 5-10 minutes later. I returned immediately and after scanning along the path, checking the garbage bins near PAMF, and checking at home to make sure I hadn't forgotten it, I finally found it in the rocks near the tracks. It clearly was not premeditated! It was opportunistic. If my bag had fallen out of my bike pannier, I would have heard it. Most of the students at PALY are fine young people. I also reported the robbery to the vice principal at PALY, which is why the police met me there.


13 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 18, 2017 at 12:26 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by green gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 18, 2017 at 12:27 pm

When my younger daughter was a Paly, a few of her friends were shoplifting. Hopefully, she was not but I, as a single parent, was working full time so do not know the answer. Never got a call from the polices so... The girls, who were shop lifting, were from families whose mothers were not working and had plenty of money.


16 people like this
Posted by Joanie Osborn
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2017 at 1:10 pm

I have moved away (but not before Paly kids moved into our house uninvited and had a few friends over when we were gone for the weekend, NO EXAGGERATION) and I know Shannon personally. She has been biking in Palo Alto with her belongings in her panniers since the 80s without incident. Out of that group of kids, no doubt someone got bold and snatched her purse. They probably thought she had it coming to her for 'reprimanding' them. As for how much money she had in her wallet, you don't know what its purpose was, so don't be all "count yourself lucky for having so much cash on hand." This is news, and she took questions from the press. She didn't hold a press conference, for crying out loud. What troubles me, is who was the upstander in that group? You'd think more than one of them witnessed this not-insignificant theft. There are great kids everywhere, but there are some pretty sleazy ones in that privileged little paradise. The great ones need to stand up for what's right and not cover up the sleazeballs' crimes. Aiding and abetting is a crime, too.


5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm

There is no direct evidence these kids committed any crime. A crime has only been conveniently attributed to them. Like, who can prove nobody else came along, found the purse, extracted the cash, and tossed the purse to where it was found, between the time of the encounter and when the purse owner returned?


6 people like this
Posted by Trolls All
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2017 at 3:11 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 18, 2017 at 4:49 pm

Way to go, Bob. Victimize the victim, much?
Dropped on accident or illicitly lifted, those kids had her ID and means to return her purse to her address. Taking the money & dumping the wallet of a 68 yr old woman is still a crime in my eyes.

(Not sure what was so controversial about my first post that it got deleted. Must have hit a nerve with victim blamers today)


3 people like this
Posted by PKM
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2017 at 10:41 pm

Good to know about such happenings so we can all remain alert.


2 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 18, 2017 at 11:08 pm

Thank you for clarifying that, Shannon. I'm sad to hear that happened to you (though thankfully you got back your phone and credit cards). That could have just as well been me biking around with my purse in my pannier. And good point, Curmudgeon. We don't know exactly what happened. We don't know which person lifted the purse, and we don't know for sure whether that person even was a Paly student (or if any of them were). I agree with Shannon that most of the students at Paly are fine young people. I have helped out in the schools as my children went through from kindergarten to high school, so I know many of those students. It's sad to see people jump to conclusions from this one incident in which a Paly student may have stolen the purse, to cover all Paly students, or all Palo Alto teenagers, painting them all with one brush. That isn't logical. I also have plenty of criticisms of Palo Alto, but no one should be accused of being malevolent simply because of the town in which they grew up.

It would be a good idea for the city to install security cameras along the bike path and in the tunnels, so it would be easier to find out exactly what did happen when a crime is committed.


3 people like this
Posted by A Parent - one more thought
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 18, 2017 at 11:11 pm

... The security cameras would probably prevent some crimes too, and should be way less expensive than they used to be.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Su Hong Palo Alto's last day of business will be Sept. 29
By Elena Kadvany | 15 comments | 5,216 views

Troubling safety issues in our fair city
By Diana Diamond | 16 comments | 1,561 views

Premarital, Women Over 50 Do Get Married
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,383 views

Natural Wines?
By Laura Stec | 1 comment | 1,356 views

Electric Buses: A case study
By Sherry Listgarten | 2 comments | 1,129 views

 

Register now!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info