News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 1104201401
Subject :

Strong-Arm Robbery Occurs at California Avenue Train Station
Contact : Jayme Ackemann, Communications Manager, Caltrain    650-508-7934
Zach Perron, Lieutenant, Palo Alto Police Department    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- A suspect approached a man waiting for a train at the California Avenue station on Sunday afternoon, punched him in the face, took his wallet, and escaped on a non-motorized scooter.  The victim sustained a minor injury and the suspect is at large.

On Sunday, November 2, 2014, at about 1:27 p.m., the Palo Alto Police Department's 24-hour dispatch center received a 9-1-1 call reporting a strong-arm robbery that had just occurred at the California Avenue train station at 101 California Avenue.  Officers responded immediately but were not able to locate the suspect.  Deputies from the Transit Police Bureau of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, which has primary law enforcement jurisdiction at the location, responded to investigate the crime.

The investigation revealed that the victim, a man in his sixties, was seated on a bench on the southbound platform waiting for the next train.  The victim had his wallet in his pants pocket, connected to his belt via a metal chain.  The chain was visible and hanging outside of his pants.  The suspect walked up and stood behind him, then suddenly reached for the chain and attempted to pull the wallet away from the victim.  The victim pulled back, at which point the suspect punched the victim once in the face and then ripped the wallet and chain from the victim’s belt before riding away on a non-motorized scooter.  The wallet contained cash and miscellaneous personnel property.

The victim received a small cut and swelling around his left eye.  He was treated at the scene by personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department and released.

A witness described the suspect as a black male, about 25 years old, wearing a white shirt and light-colored blue jeans.  The suspect was unshaven and had dreadlocks.  He was riding a silver non-motorized scooter with electric blue wheels.  The victim and witness last saw the suspect on the train platform headed southbound.  If the victim is able to meet with a police sketch artist, we will release that sketch as soon as possible.

The follow-up investigation in this case is being handled by detectives assigned to the Transit Police Bureau of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, who are working in close collaboration with detectives with the Palo Alto Police Department.  Personnel from the Transit Police Bureau, Caltrain, and the Palo Alto Police Department have jointly prepared this news release.

No other robberies at train stations in Palo Alto have been reported recently.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office anonymous tip line at 800-547-2700.  Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.  Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the Palo Alto Police Department’s free mobile app, downloadable at or