News

Elderly man targeted in another 'roadside jewelry' robbery attempt

Thieves try to take watch off man's wrist, attempt to strike good Samaritan with car

Palo Alto police are looking for two people wanted for attempting to rob an older man and nearly hitting another man with a black Jeep Cherokee seen in this image from a surveillance system at the Charleston Shopping Center parking lot on Aug. 10, 2022. Courtesy Palo Alto Police Department.

A man in his 80s and the bystander who tried to help him were targeted in a brazen robbery attempt and assault with a vehicle at Palo Alto's Charleston Shopping Center on Wednesday afternoon, police said.

The reported crime, in which a person tries to slip a piece of jewelry off the victim or steals the jewelry, has happened before in the city, according to previous police reports. This time, the attempted robbery took place in the parking lot of the shopping center in the 3900 block of Charleston Road, according to a press release issued Thursday.

Police promptly responded to the shopping center at about 1:14 p.m. after receiving a call about an in-progress robbery, but the reported robbers had already fled. No one was injured, police said.

A woman had approached the man in his 80s while he was sitting in his car. She told him it was her birthday and that she wanted to give him a gift. She reached into the car and suddenly tried to remove his watch from his wrist, he told police.

When the older man fought back and yelled for help, a man in his 40s who witnessed the struggle tried to intervene. The woman left and entered the back seat of a nearby Jeep Cherokee driven by a man.

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When the good Samaritan tried to take a picture of the Jeep's license plate, the driver of the getaway car backed directly at him. The man had to step out of the way to avoid being struck. The Jeep fled south on Middlefield Road, police said.

Witnesses described the suspects as being between 25 and 35 years old and possibly of Middle Eastern heritage. The woman wore a long black skirt and a white top; the man wore a black V-neck T-shirt and had a full black beard and mustache. The vehicle is a black, newer model Jeep Cherokee with a tinted cover over its rear license plate. The license plate was possibly from Florida, police said.

"When police are able to identify the suspects, officers will be seeking charges of attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon (both felonies)," the department said in its press release.

Palo Alto has had three similar roadside jewelry scam cases where older adults were targeted for thefts between October 2021 and May of this year, police said. Detectives are investigating to see if the cases are connected or if there have been similar crimes in other cities. As of Thursday afternoon, there is no evidence connecting any of the incidents, police said. The three prior cases remain unsolved, with no identified suspects.

Police recommend that adult children and caregivers of older adults discuss these recent incidents with them and make their loved ones aware of the scams.

"Always remain aware of your surroundings and be cautious if approached by a stranger or occupants of an unfamiliar vehicle," police said.

The department also recommends maintaining a safe distance from any stranger or unfamiliar, unoccupied vehicle. The agency also called ny suspicious behavior or crimes can reported

Anyone with information about the robbery attempt and assault or other crimes is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984.

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Sue Dremann
 
Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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Elderly man targeted in another 'roadside jewelry' robbery attempt

Thieves try to take watch off man's wrist, attempt to strike good Samaritan with car

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Aug 11, 2022, 2:48 pm

A man in his 80s and the bystander who tried to help him were targeted in a brazen robbery attempt and assault with a vehicle at Palo Alto's Charleston Shopping Center on Wednesday afternoon, police said.

The reported crime, in which a person tries to slip a piece of jewelry off the victim or steals the jewelry, has happened before in the city, according to previous police reports. This time, the attempted robbery took place in the parking lot of the shopping center in the 3900 block of Charleston Road, according to a press release issued Thursday.

Police promptly responded to the shopping center at about 1:14 p.m. after receiving a call about an in-progress robbery, but the reported robbers had already fled. No one was injured, police said.

A woman had approached the man in his 80s while he was sitting in his car. She told him it was her birthday and that she wanted to give him a gift. She reached into the car and suddenly tried to remove his watch from his wrist, he told police.

When the older man fought back and yelled for help, a man in his 40s who witnessed the struggle tried to intervene. The woman left and entered the back seat of a nearby Jeep Cherokee driven by a man.

When the good Samaritan tried to take a picture of the Jeep's license plate, the driver of the getaway car backed directly at him. The man had to step out of the way to avoid being struck. The Jeep fled south on Middlefield Road, police said.

Witnesses described the suspects as being between 25 and 35 years old and possibly of Middle Eastern heritage. The woman wore a long black skirt and a white top; the man wore a black V-neck T-shirt and had a full black beard and mustache. The vehicle is a black, newer model Jeep Cherokee with a tinted cover over its rear license plate. The license plate was possibly from Florida, police said.

"When police are able to identify the suspects, officers will be seeking charges of attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon (both felonies)," the department said in its press release.

Palo Alto has had three similar roadside jewelry scam cases where older adults were targeted for thefts between October 2021 and May of this year, police said. Detectives are investigating to see if the cases are connected or if there have been similar crimes in other cities. As of Thursday afternoon, there is no evidence connecting any of the incidents, police said. The three prior cases remain unsolved, with no identified suspects.

Police recommend that adult children and caregivers of older adults discuss these recent incidents with them and make their loved ones aware of the scams.

"Always remain aware of your surroundings and be cautious if approached by a stranger or occupants of an unfamiliar vehicle," police said.

The department also recommends maintaining a safe distance from any stranger or unfamiliar, unoccupied vehicle. The agency also called ny suspicious behavior or crimes can reported

Anyone with information about the robbery attempt and assault or other crimes is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984.

Comments

Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2022 at 4:37 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 11, 2022 at 4:37 pm

We are getting reports of these on a daily basis, or so it seems. These are crimes where the thief is not being subtle when seeing an open purse neglected in a cart, or a distracted customer being careless with a wallet, but grab and go thieves who don't care if they are seen as they snatch at jewelry from a wrist or a cell phone from a hand.

What is going to be done to done to stop these daylight robberies?


Richard
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Aug 11, 2022 at 9:02 pm
Richard , Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Aug 11, 2022 at 9:02 pm

Another reason to drive with your windows up and to ignore everyone…


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Aug 12, 2022 at 9:52 am
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 9:52 am

This is nuts. Really. Palo Alto's new police chief has a heap of work to do to restore the sense of safety that was once normal here. The other night at CC he mentioned that recruiting is a priority. He will need both money and good luck. I recently had a conversation with an officer who is thinking about opportunities in Santa Clara. Our officers - and those we seek to hire - need to know that funding for their positions is sufficient, competitive, and secure. That is key to public safety and, I think, far more important than administrative positions at City Hall.

Palo Alto needs to get its act together.


Fritzie Blue
Registered user
Stanford
on Aug 12, 2022 at 11:24 am
Fritzie Blue, Stanford
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 11:24 am

I am increasingly sad for the beautiful California I grew up in.

Tackling crime and the safety of citizens should be the city's top priority.


Forever Name
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2022 at 12:19 pm
Forever Name, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 12:19 pm

Very scary! I'm so glad everyone is ok and no one was hurt or killed by a car backing into them.

This is the result when crime is decriminalized. You get what you vote for. Californians rejected the Governor recall, and the initiative to lower the criminal threshold on property crime back to where it was failed. Californians voted for more of the same! When will Californians vote differently? When you finally become the victim? Those fed up have moved to TX, and those left are still voting for the status quo then whining about the scary dangerous results.

Some liberal cities are finally fed up. Progressive DA Boudin in SF, most liberal city in the world, was recently recalled by a Democratic city fed up with crime. Progressive policies are all good until they're not, and you're the next victim. If you want a different result, and to feel safer, and be safer, vote differently.

Reuters, June 3, 2022:
"Democrats struggle to find footing on violent crime"
Web Link
" Fed-up Democrats in San Francisco and Los Angeles, liberal-leaning California cities reeling from COVID-era spikes in homicides and gun violence, may punish their own party at the polls next week over its criminal justice policies."... "In congressional and local races across the United States, Republicans have seized upon calls by progressives to reduce police department budgets and other liberal criminal justice policies..."


Gale Johnson
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 12, 2022 at 5:08 pm
Gale Johnson, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 5:08 pm

I shop at Piazza's frequently and I see many older people, like me, that shuffle along, and it's obvious they're having difficulty walking (some use walkers) and are easy targets and potential victims of these kinds of attacks. Years ago I used to enjoy going downtown, even alone when my wife was out of town, having a cocktail at a bar, maybe having dinner at one the many fine restaurants, and then walking up and down University Ave to enjoy the lively crowds doing the same thing...often meeting neighbors and people I knew from many organizations that I belonged to. We'd visit on the sidewalks while listening to street musicians and watching dancers. I'm still capable of doing that but I would be a fool to try it. The walk back to my car could be my last walk! What happened to my town?


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Aug 13, 2022 at 12:32 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2022 at 12:32 pm

@Gale Johnson: every member of CC and our City Manager should read your post and pledge - publicly - to each do at least 1 thing to improve Palo Alto's public safety so that you and others can feel as safe as you once did downtown. And at Piazza's. And at Stanford Shopping Center. And, and, and . . .


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 13, 2022 at 2:03 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2022 at 2:03 pm

@Annette, yup. And the new police chief and his staff and every candidate running for office and, and, and ...

@Gale Johnson, thank you and yes, CC sure should read your post and others since too many ignore feel for what we think. I rarely go to University Ave any more and have avoided the parking garages for a long time.

How the city can fail to monitor the garages is incredible because homeless and others congregate in them. Some friends who used to live here insisted on revisiting Evvia 15? years ago so we parked in the High St garage. They were stunned to see a large group o sitting on car hoods o with their sleeping bags nearby with one of them on the car hood doing her nails.


John
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 14, 2022 at 10:01 am
John, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2022 at 10:01 am

Exactly the result myself and the small, small minority of anti-criminal, pro-police voters in PA have been predicting for the past decade. You reap what you sow.


Marlon Williams
Registered user
Mountain View
on Aug 14, 2022 at 11:10 am
Marlon Williams, Mountain View
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2022 at 11:10 am

"You reap what you sow."

Palo Alto and Mountain View tend to accommodate the homeless population while the more affluent communities (i.e. Los Altos, Atherton etc.) discourage it.

Why is that?


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Aug 14, 2022 at 2:37 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2022 at 2:37 pm

I don't have statistics one way or the other but I am inclined to think that the crimes that are taking place in Palo Alto are by practiced criminals. It's possible some are also homeless, but I doubt the brazen and savvy crimes that are happening are committed by people who have been caught in the homelessness vortex. I also doubt Palo Alto or any of the other expensive cities in this area is where a homeless person wants to be if they don't have a compelling reason to be such as a job or family b/c everything costs more in these places, not just the housing.


Seth Langley
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Aug 14, 2022 at 4:32 pm
Seth Langley, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2022 at 4:32 pm

@Annette: the homeless tend to gravitate to areas where the weather is mild with ease of access to parks, strip malls, and public transportation. They do not go to remote places like South Dakota and Wyoming.

[Portion removed.]

Upper middle class neighborhoods and high-end shopping centers are prime targets for robberies because the desirable re-salable merchandise is already there...whether on-person or in-store.

The robbers from Antioch are not robbing people and stores in Antioch.

It does not take a Columbo to put 2+2 together and hopefully law enforcement is readily aware of these factors.

The bottom line...as in other 'nice' upscale communities, everyday life is no longer 95% safe in Palo Alto but it is still far safer than most urban ghettos.



Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 14, 2022 at 5:07 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 14, 2022 at 5:07 pm

Palo Alto seems to be destination for "criminal tourism" where the criminals from elsewhere are committing much od the crimes. Scanning the recent crime reports, i recall reading about perps coming here from Healdsburg, SF, Oakland, Vallejo etc. etc. with many of them having long records and awaiting trial for their latest crimes.


Eleanor Prescott
Registered user
Downtown North
on Aug 15, 2022 at 6:53 am
Eleanor Prescott, Downtown North
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2022 at 6:53 am

Stanford Shopping Center could easily establish parking lot monitors at its entrances/exits like they do at parking garages, ballparks, and various municipal facilities.

This would deter store robberies and aid in the apprehension of tourist criminals
as anyone entering the lots would be registered via a parking slip and recorded by video recorder.


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