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 email@example.com 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.