|News Release||The City of Palo Alto|
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||PRESS RELEASE #04282015|
|Subject :||Suspect in Sexual Battery of Girl Arrested; Police Credit Social Media|
|Contact :||Brian Philip, Detective Sergeant, Police Department 650-329-2413|
|Palo Alto, CA -- Police are crediting an overwhelming community response via social media and a partnership with local media outlets with forcing the suspect who groped a 12-year-old girl at a food market to self-surrender to police this evening. Officers have booked him into jail for four counts of felony lewd and lascivious acts against a child, and detectives are now looking into the possibility that he may have been involved in a similar incident earlier this month in Burlingame.|
On Sunday, April 26, 2015, at about 2:10 p.m., an unknown suspect groped the buttocks of the 12-year-old victim as she shopped with her mother at Sigona's Farmers Market at the Stanford Shopping Center, located at 180 El Camino Real. The victim told her mother what had happened immediately, but the suspect disappeared and could not be found. We distributed a news release with a surveillance image of the suspect on Monday, April 27 at 12:55 p.m., and posted the suspect’s image on our social media sites to include Twitter, Facebook, Nextdoor, Nixle, and our free mobile app, as well as on our website.
Almost immediately, our community responded by sharing the image and news release widely on social media. On Facebook alone, for example, the post was shared more than 10,000 times, and the suspect’s image reached the timelines of more than 870,000 users. All of our media partners (television, print, radio, and online) shared the image and/or story as well, reaching an even broader audience across the Bay Area and beyond.
On the morning of Tuesday, April 28, detectives were able to identify the suspect as a result of tips called in by people who had recognized him either from social media and/or news coverage. Detectives worked during the afternoon to obtain a search warrant for the suspect’s residence in San Mateo.
Prior to being able to executive the search warrant and attempt to arrest him, the suspect called our 24-hour dispatch center and said he was on his way to our station to turn himself in. At about 7:30 p.m. on April 28, the suspect arrived at the station. Detectives detained him for investigation, interviewed him, and eventually placed him under arrest. Detectives also served the search warrant at his residence in the 800 block of North Humboldt Street in San Mateo.
Police booked 47-year-old San Mateo resident Rob Richard Chapman into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for four counts of felony lewd and lascivious acts against a child (one for each separate touch of the victim). A booking photo of the suspect is not attached to this release, due to the possibility of the suspect being involved in another similar incident in Burlingame on April 4, 2015 (see the Burlingame Police Department’s Facebook page for more info here). Detectives are working with investigators from the Burlingame Police Department to see if the suspect may be connected to their case. The release of the suspect’s booking photo at this point could potentially jeopardize their investigation. Once that investigation is complete, we will release our booking photo. (Update as of Friday, May 1, 2015 at 2:15 p.m.: We have released the suspect's booking photo and added it to this release.)
Detectives believe it is possible that the suspect committed similar crimes in other jurisdictions against other juvenile girls. Anyone with information about additional crimes is asked to contact us at 650-329-2413.
The Palo Alto Police Department has a robust presence on social media, and we use it on a near-daily basis to broadcast news, crime trend information, crime prevention tips, human interest stories, and more. We encourage the public to follow us on the platform of their choice. For links to all of our social media accounts, visit www.cityofpaloalto.org/PAPDconnect.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through our free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.