Palo Alto's odd news of 2017

A look back at the year's weirdest crime (and abandoned reptile) stories

Deputies from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office stand in front of the Palo Alto Courthouse where two inmates escaped from the courthouse, fleeing in a getaway car, on Nov. 6, 2017. The two were at the courthouse for a hearing before they escaped. Photo by Veronica Weber.

From a brawl over an eaten doughnut to the woman who decided to join her dog in biting a would-be robber, Palo Alto had its fair share of odd, head-shaking stories that made the headlines in 2017.

With the year coming to an end, here's a look back at some of them:

Men arrested after scuffle over doughnut

Two men got into an argument with 7-Eleven clerks on Feb. 15 after they refused to pay for a doughnut they removed and ate from the pastry case. After the clerks tried to prevent the men from leaving the store, one of them smashed the glass entrance door, and the other punched a clerk in the face. The men were arrested for strong-arm robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Woman and her dog bite would-be robber

A man got more than he bargained for on Feb. 19 after he grabbed a woman around the neck and threw her to the ground in an attempt to steal a cellphone out of her pocket while she walked her small dog in Pardee Park. The woman and her dog fought back: She bit down on the man's hand, and the dog began biting his legs.

Snake found on bus put up for adoption

A Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority bus in Palo Alto had to make an emergency stop and clear passengers near Town & Country Village after a 1- to 2-foot-long young ball python was found curled up on one of the seats on Sept. 27. The slithery creature was removed from the bus by a Palo Alto Animal Services animal control officer and put up for adoption a month later.

Felon faces third strike for dancing with firearm in music video

A 27-year-old East Palo Alto man found himself facing a third-strike felony conviction in October after police spotted him singing, dancing and pointing firearms at the camera during a rap music video posted on YouTube. When he asked why he was facing a three-strike case "for singing on a video," the prosecutor said, "(His) singing isn't that bad ... (it's) what he had in his hand." -- a firearm, which is a parole violation.

Man steals car while owner pumps gas

In a brazen carjacking, a man stole a pickup truck at a Palo Alto gas station near Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center on July 9 as the owner was pumping gas. Police discovered a gas nozzle and hose about a mile down the road that ripped out of the pump as he drove away.

Man arrested after 'carburetor attack' at auto parts store

A Palo Alto man upset that he had been given the wrong car part was arrested on Feb. 12 after a dust-up at an O'Reilly Auto Parts in Mountain View, where he allegedly attacked another customer with a carburetor cover and attempted to punch an employee before leaving the store and striking a car on the way out. He was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, hit and run, and resisting arrest.

Tenants' cars vandalized to free up rent-controlled apartments

The landlord of an East Palo Alto apartment building pleaded no contest to felony vandalism on Feb. 8 for damaging his tenants' cars in an attempt to force them to move from their rent-controlled units so he could collect higher rent from new tenants.

Woman photographs man who exposed himself

A man who exposed himself to a woman in Palo Alto's Evergreen Park neighborhood on Feb. 27 didn't flee quickly enough to prevent her from taking a photo of him fondling himself with his pants down to his thighs.

Driver finds himself in hot water after throwing coffee at police

A Menlo Park man allegedly threw a cup of hot coffee on a Palo Alto traffic enforcement officer after being issued a citation in the 600 block of Alma Street on Sept. 25. The officer, who was not injured, then cited the man for battery on a peace officer.

Two shackled inmates escape from courthouse

In an elaborate scheme, two handcuffed and shackled inmates evaded a deputy in the halls of the Palo Alto courthouse and escaped in an awaiting getaway car that drove them to a U-Haul near Oregon Expressway that they used to flee the area on Nov. 6. Both were captured separately three weeks later.

Related content:

Webcast: Year in Review

2017: From behind the camera lens

Quotes to remember from 2017


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