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Driver chases would-be robbers

Original post made on Nov 25, 2007

A man and his wife pulling out of a driveway in the 200 block of Tennyson Avenue in Palo Alto around 7 p.m. Saturday after visiting family members night saw something unusual.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, November 26, 2007, 2:36 PM

Comments (25)

Posted by David
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 25, 2007 at 4:07 pm

From 7/5/2006

Couple robbed at gunpoint
A Palo Alto couple returning home from a night in downtown Palo
Alto was robbed at gunpoint early Saturday morning by two masked
men who got away with cash, a purse, a wallet with credit cards and a
cell phone.
The victims of the 12:38 a.m. robbery, at Cowper Street and Tennyson
Avenue, were not harmed and were told to walk away, according to police
Sgt. Sandra Brown.
One robber was described as a black male adult between 18 and 25
years old, 6’2” and 200 lbs. The second robber was described as a black
male adult, about the same age, 5’9” and 180 lbs. Both men were wearing
dark hooded sweat shirts, dark pants and ski masks. The suspects were
last seen walking west on Tennyson from Cowper towards Alma

Seems that residents on this street need concealed weapons permits.
Clearly the police are not protecting these folks as evidenced by the fact that it has happened again.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2007 at 5:26 pm

There needs to be recording cameras at every major intersection so that autos associated with presence near criminal events would be identified.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 25, 2007 at 8:41 pm

I think better street lighting and outside home lighting is a deterrent.

Posted by Matt Raschke
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Nov 25, 2007 at 9:15 pm


You can view real-time traffic cameras on the County roads: Web Link

I don't know if the video is recorded, but it is pretty neat to watch.

Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 26, 2007 at 12:09 am

Right. Cameras and better lighting are badly needed at strategic locations.

Slightly off topic:

I was at Lytton Plaza this evening, walking over to "Pizza My Heart".

It's clear to me now that one of the reasons this place draws so many undesirables is that it is poorly lighted, and there is virtually no police presence. It's amazing how many vagrants are permitted to hang out there. We need a few 'beat' officers downtown, patrolling places like Lytton, hanging out, and getting certain persons to "move along".

This evening, as I approached PMH, a few losers on a bench were talking about how they had beat someone up a few days ago. As I left PMH, there was a larger crowd at the same spot, talking about how someone they knew had broken a bottle to use in a fight. Two of them were looking hard, in my direction, with a very threatening demeanor.

We don't want people like this downtown, or anywhere in our community, and should do everything possible to discourage their use of certain places downtown as gathering spots.

This evenings experience leads me to believe that Lytton Plaza may even be a staging area for planned - or even serendipitous - attacks against citizens, or a place where information about citizen and residential vulnerabilities is exchanged among certain individuals.

Posted by Jim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 26, 2007 at 7:35 am

Palo Alto used to have two police officers on bikes that ran bums. It worked. Now, the bums run the streets. The Opportunity Center has made it a lot worse. We need our cops back, and they need to have the authority to crack down on the bums and punks.

Posted by Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2007 at 11:48 am

Until we get a new Public Safety Building which will attract new recruits to our Police Department our Police Department will continue to be short staffed. New recruits continue to go to Menlo Park and Mountain View where the facilities are so much better.

Anyway, why should North PA have a greater police presence than South PA.

Posted by Clear Thinker
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 26, 2007 at 12:24 pm

Cameras have a limited use: constrained by light angles and weather conditions. Furthermore, cameras are only useful in after the fact process of apprehension and prosecution. The problem is stopping this activity.

If cameras worked we would not have bank robberies.

Posted by Former Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2007 at 2:32 pm

Two attacks more than a year apart and David says that the police clearly are not doing their job? What sort of well of never ending resources do you think the police department has such that they could devote staff to search for these crooks 24/7 until they are caught?

Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 26, 2007 at 2:41 pm

Clear Thinker,

Cameras are mainly a *deterrent*. And, they DO work to apprehend. Just ask the Brits.

Crime will happen, no matter what - but we should have technologies in place (really good street lighting, and cameras) that deter crime.

one thing I can't understand is why residents (ALL residents) don't install an outdoor night light, or at least a night light with a motion sensor. Dark homes are a tempting target for theives and muggers.

Posted by Clear Thinker
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 26, 2007 at 4:12 pm

I am not opposed to cameras per se what I am opposed to is the bureaucracy that you get with cameras.

$$$,$$$.00 Studies/ Reports/ Requirements
$$$,$$$.00 Acquisition
$$$,$$$.00 Installation
$$$,$$$.00 Maintenance
$$$,$$$.00 Upgrading
$$$,$$$.00 Experts to certify that it all works per requirements
$$$,$$$.00 City/County employee Training
$$$,$$$.00 City/County employee Monitoring
$$$,$$$.00 monitoring facility
$$$,$$$.00 monitoring facility expenses
$$$,$$$.00 City/County employee Retirement
$$$,$$$.00 Auditors to confirm all this tax payer money was spent.

And after all this $$$,$$$,$$$.00 you have noting better than a "deterrent". 

And all those cameras did not stop the London Subway bombers.

Then there is the matter of legal process. More money out the window, the police have a suspect and "poor quality video" footage. The jury can not convict due to reasonable doubt, and around and around the merry-go-round goes.

At best they are after the fact historians.

Like I said before: "If cameras worked we would not have bank robberies"

Posted by Brit
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2007 at 4:27 pm

The cameras didn't stop the London Underground bombers, but they certainly caught them on video and found out who they were, where they lived, etc. and were able to make arrests pretty quickly. Without them, there may have been more tragedies which were prevented.

If you have nothing to fear, those cameras actually make you feel safer.

Posted by sue
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2007 at 5:08 pm

More concealed weapons permits and armed homeowners will put a stop to this sort of crime as it has where such measures have been adopted.

Cameras are ok after the fact but an armed and trained citizenry is a true deterrent.
Let us introduce some crippling fear into the criminal mind.

Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2007 at 7:07 am

There are quite a few things to worry about. This wasn't just a crime of opportunity, but something that robbers were out looking for someone to rob (by bringing along their gun). That area doesn't have hardly any foot traffic, so the victim could have been a resident coming out their home. Were these robbers just wandering around until they found someone? or were they just waiting in one location? Also when they decided to flee, they went south on Bryant; if someone is fleeing, I would expect them to go to some area of familarity or where they would feel they could blend in/not get easily noticed; they didn't go to where there were more people, be towards an area of more homes.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 27, 2007 at 10:00 am

clear thinker, I liked your itemized list of expenses! How sad, how true...that said, I believe SOME cameras MAY help in certain places.

Mike, I always have an outdoor light (no, it's not too bright, as I'm sure someone could question about that) on at my home at night and I notice how incredibly dark my neighbor's homes are. Many streets in Palo Alto seem awfully dark to me. Another method is to use a motion-sensor light that could scare off a probing would-be robber.

Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 27, 2007 at 11:30 am

Perhaps we should start a Palo Alto chapter of the Guardian Angels.
Web Link

Citizens need to become more proactive, and be more aware of their surroundings. Like it or not, we live in an *urban* area. Palo Alto is not (and hasn't been, for a long time) a residential suburb. We're not Los Altos Hills (which, btw, is also not immune from crime).

Even if we were just a residential suburb, our location within 25 miles ofo two major urban areas would expose us to crime risk.

Better neighborhood lighting, surveillance cameras, more personal awareness, more knowledge about what to do when confronted by a thief or mugger, better self-defense awareness (not macho heroism, just simple things one needs to know to save one's life if it gets ugly), better coordination between neighborhoods and police (Neighborhood Watch), etc. etc.

All these things, and more, need to happen if we're to reduce the odds that we will be victims of crime.

I would like to see this become a personal initiative of whomever is appointed as our next Mayor.

We have already done some good things re: disaster security, but we also need to focus on the more likely problems of violation of personal security. This needs to be done.

Posted by Gonzalez
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2007 at 12:38 pm

"Better neighborhood lighting, surveillance cameras, more personal awareness, more knowledge about what to do when confronted by a thief or mugger, better self-defense awareness (not macho heroism, just simple things one needs to know to save one's life if it gets ugly), better coordination between neighborhoods and police (Neighborhood Watch), etc. etc. "

Among the most effective of the "etc. etc." measures would be closing the crime and homeless magnet Opportunity Center.

Doubt if we'll see that however.

Posted by John
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 27, 2007 at 7:47 pm

It's quite interesting to see the various responses to these problems. These issues will likely not go away as we all live in a very urban area. There are no more boundaries like there used to be. One thing is for certain, we truly need to focus more attention on getting our cops better and more central accommodations (Page Mill area) so that they are not so focused on the downtown area. Considering our city is so large in land mass (28 sq mi i think), we can't really expect so few police officers to be in every location at once. But we can better the chances by making them a bit more centrally located and maybe even increase the number of officers on our force. Just a thought!

Posted by watching from the sidelines
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 28, 2007 at 4:43 am

I am truly sorry that there really isn't a REAL fairy godmother, like I had believed all my life from all the fairy tail books I read as a child. She could just wave her wand and make all the people in poverty suddenly become another cookie cutter and be rich and/or famous like others here in Shallo Alto..........
I cannot believe the attitude of Mike in College Terrace..Did it ever occur to him that those guys on the bench were talking ~and bragging stories ~like those of immature third graders...?????? Boasting, I think they call it. True or falce ones? Well, perhaps not. We shall never know. You should not believe all you hear.
If you mind your own business and quit being so paranoid, your life would be so much simpler.
Yes, we need to put a walking police patrol downtown. Send those that are drunk to the drunk tank..that is what it is for. Put those of uncontrolled actions into therape. Help is there at Opportunity Center, some just need to be presented with the facts on how and where to get help and all will live happily ever after................Amen

Posted by Gonzales
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 29, 2007 at 9:15 am

"If you mind your own business and quit being so paranoid, your life would be so much simpler."

Seems like the guy in his own driveway on Tennyson Avenue was doing exactly that: it didn't seem to make his life much simpler though.

The suggestion that "help is there at the Opportunity Center" seems similarly simplistic. In fact those drawn here by the Opportunity Center are seem increasingly responsible for crime and the diminishing quality of life here - either directly, or indirectly as they draw police resources away from protecting us from the predators roaming our streets with impunity.

Posted by Single mom
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 29, 2007 at 10:17 am

My son and two of his friends were skateboarding down Alma about 6 months ago and were confronted by two men and a young woman who would not move off to the side of the sidewalk and started confronting my son and his friends...then the one man pulled out a gun, ending any further conversations. The men and woman crossed the street into the underpass towards the California Ave. Nothing my son or his friends could do but calm down and go home. Now seems the same guys may be stalking that same area again. Sorry this was not reported then.

Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 29, 2007 at 10:29 am

Gonzales: Hate to burst your bubble about "people drawn here" to the Opportunity Center, but some of the residents there at the Center are actually the sons and daughters of people who's parents live here in Palo Alto. Some that have been here for generations.

Posted by Davey
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 29, 2007 at 12:25 pm

"some of the residents there at the Center are actually the sons and daughters of people who's parents live here in Palo Alto..."

Is there any documentation for this seemingly incredible fact? If it is true, what is wrong with parents who allow their children - adult or not - to exist in this way? How does this work?...grow up in Palo Alto, then to Paly, then apply for housing at the Opportunity Center....then on to robbing the stores at Town and Country?...

I don't mean to question Mayfield Child's bona fides, but this seems like an improbably life path to me.

Posted by Cari
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 29, 2007 at 12:37 pm

The Opportunity Center is a magnet for homeless from all around the Bay Area. Anyone contending otherwise is fooling no one - except perhaps his or herself.

The problem with homeless is much worse since the OC opened, which every casual observer can easily see. This has been a mistake. It not only degrades the quality of life - and the safety - for Palo Altans, but more tragically, it fails to help the poor souls it is claimed to serve.

What possible good can it do to try to rehabilitate extremely poor people with mental and substance abuse problems and no job or life skills in the middle of a wealthy and technologically sophisticated community in which they cannot hope to fit? Even if these people's personal problems could be solved, they have no hope of finding productive lives here in Palo Alto.

The Opportunity Center is a sop to the do-gooder conscience in town, and it allows the guilt-mongers among them to make effective political points. But it does more harm than good for its clients and it created much unnecessary ill-will in the community directed inappropriately at the poor societal misfits who are the OC's clients.

We should reserve our scorn, and our hostility at the problems and crimes attributable to the homeless to the OC's advocates.

And we should work on closing the OC now!

Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 29, 2007 at 11:27 pm

This one is for Davey:
Yes, being a person who grew up in this town myself, as did my parents and theirs also, I have many stories I could tell...
One being that I personally know of SEVERAL offsprings of Palo Alto's ("finest")families that have made use of the Red Cross' programs when they were located there on Mitchell Lane (before the OC). SEVERAL.
(Sad to say, SEVERAL.) Many went to school in my generation, some in my children's generation. Cubberley, Paly and also Gunn High people. Mostly all caucasian also. Mostly all ended up with alcohol problems, followed by drugs and/or mental illness.
Most had parents who helped form this town, "buzy professionals"...maybe too busy to give enough of themselves to help their children, or not knowing how to or ~even not cconcerned.....differs from each family. BUT, they are there, these people shunned by society, estranged from their families. AND, they are living, breathing life~ like it or not. They seek help there at the OC, the last hope of a step up ~before jail, crime, hospitalization or death.

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