Town Square

Post a New Topic

Bank robber uses 'getaway wheelchair'

Original post made on Apr 4, 2008

A man in an electric wheelchair robbed the Wachovia Bank at Stanford Shopping Center Thursday afternoon of an undisclosed amount of money. There was a delay in the bank notifying police, Palo Alto Police Agent Dan Ryan said, and the robber was able to successfully get away.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 4, 2008, 9:27 AM

Comments (30)

Posted by Michael Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 4, 2008 at 10:26 am

Is this an April Fool's joke? Was he armed? This reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Sideshow Bob steals the Wright Flier, and 2 Navy F-14's try to catch it. After screaming past it, the pilot says, "Bogey's air speed not sufficient for intercept. Suggest we get out and walk."

Posted by sal
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 4, 2008 at 10:31 am

Those electric vehicles can really hum.

Remember when Al Gores son was arrested for DUI and drug possession after been a traffic stop for going 100 mph in a Prius on the freeway?

Posted by Z
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2008 at 11:38 am

The Prius is not an electric vehicle

Posted by James
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 4, 2008 at 11:44 am


I just read the police department's press release on the city website. How do leave out the fact that the robber also produced a handgun from the shopping bag. Something the readers might want to know I would think. Trying to soften the event or looking for a little spin?

Posted by Michael Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 4, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Well with this new green spirit sweeping the area, its good to know that even the criminals use environmentally friendly electric vehicles.

Posted by Senor Blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 4, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Why am I beating my brains out at work every day?
There's an easier way to make a living, and be green...

Posted by Patrick
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2008 at 4:40 pm

It's obviously D.B. Cooper. No more doughnuts for the cops until they can move quickly enough to catch up with him.

Posted by Tim
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 4, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Now the bleeding hearts will be moaning on how Palo Alto failed this guy, what WE did wrong, what WE should have done to provide for him. We don't even know if he needed a wheelchair or was it is a good 'prop'. And how long will the PAPD solve this case and let it drag on? Hopefully faster that the PACT.

Posted by Jay Thorwaldson
editor emeritus
on Apr 4, 2008 at 11:41 pm

Jay Thorwaldson is a registered user.

James: If one reads the first paragraph of Don's writeup you will see that it says "at gunpoint." Seems to me that about covers it, whether he took it from the shopping bag or his pocket. -jay

Posted by John
a resident of Triple El
on Apr 5, 2008 at 10:11 pm

Here's a man that didn't let his disability get in the way of his goals!

Posted by Michael Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 6, 2008 at 9:30 am

This story made the Drudge Report this morning (Sunday). It was listed with a few other bizarre crime stories.

Posted by Katie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 6, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Hopefully this incident will inspire more handicapped people to commit crimes. They have the equal opportunity to do wrong and get away with it too...
Someone should have pulled the battery wires on that thing. I wouldn't be surprised if this guy frequently visited one of the area hospitals!!

Posted by june
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 6, 2008 at 2:38 pm

was the delay in bank calling the PAPD because they wanted to check with their lawyers about the application of the disability statutes and various affirmative action laws?.

Equal opportunity for those in wheel chair particularly electric ones.

Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 6, 2008 at 9:24 pm


Electric wheelchairs are not "green" alternatives to something else. They are wheelchairs with large power supplies that allow disabled people to propel themselves - at a fairly fast clip at top speed (up to 10 mph/ a 6 minute mile, which I'll warrant most of you funny guys couldn't do for any significant distance if at all) - rather than being wheeled manually by someone else. The chairs are bulkier than regular chairs and would actually be fairly difficult for someone on foot to apprehend, especially if the rider were wielding a handgun.

As for whether the chair was a "prop" - that's kind of an expensive prop, do you know what those things cost? It's not like they're as common as cars or bikes, either. Too bad people know so little about them - if witnesses could pin down specifics about the chair, I'm guessing it probably wouldn't be that hard to track down the owner by the description of the chair (and even the perpetrator, assuming it's his chair) and the van with the lift!

I think the knee-jerk criticism of the PAPD is unwarranted. They've made more difficult arrests in recent months, I expect they'll find this guy soon.

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 7, 2008 at 8:55 am

Another example of the American's with Disabilities Act being misused.

Posted by m
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 7, 2008 at 2:46 pm

the drawing looks like that undercover officer...

Posted by ThunderRoad
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Apr 8, 2008 at 12:10 am

A.J.- Re: the wheelchair being "green" was suppose to be funny...a joke. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].

Posted by KT
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2008 at 12:14 am

ok AJ....the funny business wasn't meant to offend anyone so don't take it so personally and btw I can run a 6 min mile for longer than one mile.

It seems as though there were enough witnesses to see this man leave the bank in the wheelchair and hoist himself into this van....why didn't anyone get a tag number??

Posted by HillbillyHell
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 8, 2008 at 12:20 am

Police couldn't find him because he stopped at The Peninsula Creamery for a burger, fries, and a milkshake.

Posted by SpaceJam
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2008 at 12:27 am

I know this guy...he was panhandling last week in front of Starbucks on Unversity Ave. As my girlfriend and I walked by I said, "have a nice day", and gave him two quarters. He replied, "That's only 25 cents each!" The gratitude of some people!

Posted by CrocHunter
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2008 at 12:37 am

KT - I'd like to challenge you to a race. I'll borrow my grandpa's electric wheelchair. We'll go five miles. The winner gets a Sharper Image bag full of Wachovia Bank pens, stickers, and refrigerator magnets.

Posted by BeetleNut
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 8, 2008 at 12:45 am

This whole thing is a hoax perpetrated by Wachovia to divert attention from their recent write down of over $10 billion in subprime loan losses.

Posted by ThunderRoad
a resident of Monroe Park
on Apr 8, 2008 at 12:54 am

Check out the picture...there's something familiar about this guy. Didn't I read that the Unibomber was recently released from prison and is living in a halfway house in Northern Calif. I think the article said he's now disabled and was given an electric wheelchair as part of his release agreement. Coincidence?

Posted by A.J.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2008 at 1:25 am

Dear Weekly,
Will you please kindly at least censor the name calling by the above resident who fancies himself a comedian?

ThunderRoad - I'm guessing by your oddly angry outburst that you don't realize you are not as funny as you think you are?

Humor as a cover for anger and other negative feelings is rarely as funny as people think it is - with the exception of lawyer jokes... Let's face it, most of the above posts were more political expressions than attempts at real humor. Not that good humor can't be strong political expression, but like lawyer jokes, it does have to actually be funny or it just comes across as angry. Name-calling for no real provocation - also definitely comes across as angry. A better joke in response vs. name-calling - two very different ways to respond that say a lot about the true nature of the poster.

As it is, I'm just puzzled at why anyone would get so angry that a stranger didn't laugh on cue at such a lame attempt at humor. (My not getting it was not a political statement, if that's why you got upset - sorry, no good jokes there.)

Maybe I'm being a little thin-skinned on behalf of the PA police department and the people on the scene. Okay KT, you're in better shape than most people - but I don't think you could outrun a bullet, and I'm glad no one on the scene thought they could try.

Now, if the old guy had WHEELED himself in with a manually powered chair, didn't have a gun, and still got away, THEN maybe I would have chuckled at the allusions to "green" crime...

Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 8, 2008 at 1:28 am

I take that back - CrocHunter, you are funny!

Posted by ThunderRoad
a resident of Monroe Park
on Apr 8, 2008 at 10:01 am

A.J.- As Shakespeare once said, you "doth protest too much". Perhaps you are not sophisticated enough to understand satirical humor. By the way, your arguments are convoluted and circular. And regarding your armchair pychological bit of advice...don't quit your day job! (that is, if you are working). Have a nice day.

Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 8, 2008 at 3:12 pm

ThunderRoad - No, I have a pretty keen sense of humor, but as you point out, I'm no psychologist.

Perhaps you could explain to me why it continues to be so important to you to insist that the above lame attempts at humor were indeed funny and to be sure that I, a stranger, either agree or am duly put in my place for not being sophisticated enough to see it?

Posted by ThunderRoad
a resident of Monroe Park
on Apr 8, 2008 at 4:57 pm

A.J. Apparently you take yourself WAY TOO SERIOUSLY. You need to lighten up and laugh a little. BTW, your second paragraph is one long run on sentence.

Posted by ThunderRoad
a resident of Monroe Park
on Apr 8, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Hard to believe the Weekly CENSORED my earlier comment. Oh I forgot, this is Palo Alto and we must be POLITALLY CORRECT at all times. Apparently, some posters can't handle opposing views. If you want to see free wheeling discussions, check out the comments on the Chronicle's site, On sfgate posters don't have such thin skins....and there's often some rather lively give-and-take. Posters there don't get their FEELING HURT because it's all done in the spirit of open and free debate.

Posted by KT
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2008 at 12:40 am

Croc, I would say yes to the challenge, but the prize seems pretty lame....except for the pens.....can I still get the pens? haha.

Anyway, AJ, I agree that it was smart of the people not to try to outrun a bullet and I am really glad that no one got hurt. Let's all be thankful for that.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

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

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Pescadero’s farmworkers can’t afford the food they’re growing for the Peninsula
By The Peninsula Foodist | 6 comments | 3,807 views

We need an audit of city spending
By Diana Diamond | 11 comments | 2,135 views


Register today to support local nonprofits

The 38th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, September 9. Proceeds go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local nonprofits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon. Complete your race in person or virtually to support local nonprofits.

Register Now!