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


Subject :

Victim Thwarts Purse Snatch Attempt by Throwing Coffee on Suspect
Contact : Marianna Villaescusa, Agent, Police Department    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA – A victim threw a hot cup of coffee in the face of a would-be purse snatcher to thwart a robbery attempt over the weekend at the Stanford Shopping Center.  The suspect and an accomplice escaped on a bicycle and remain at large, and police are asking for the public's help with identifying them.

On Saturday, February 11, 2017, at about 10:19 a.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a call reporting a robbery attempt that had occurred about thirty minutes at the Stanford Shopping Center at 180 El Camino Real.  Officers responded to the area, but the two suspects had fled on one bicycle prior to police arrival.

The investigation revealed that the victim, a woman in her twenties, had been walking in the parking lot nearest the corner of El Camino Real and Quarry Road.  A pair of suspects rode up to her on a bicycle (the accomplice was pedaling, while the primary suspect was standing on the pegs of the rear wheel with his hands on his partner’s shoulders).  The primary suspect got off of the bicycle and tried to pull the victim’s purse off of her shoulder.  The victim, who was holding a hot cup of coffee she had just purchased, threw the coffee at the suspect’s face.  In response, the suspect punched her once in the face with his fist, causing the victim to scream.  The suspect then jumped back onto the rear of the bicycle, and the two departed the scene by riding away towards Quarry Road.  The victim retained all of her property.  She sustained a minor injury to her face, but declined medical attention at the scene.  The suspect’s injuries, if any, are unknown.

The victim described the primary suspect as a black male in his twenties.  He was tall (between 6 feet 3 inches and 6 feet 5 inches) and skinny, with a squared-off flat-top haircut.  He was wearing a red V-neck cotton T-shirt and black jeans.  The victim described the accomplice as a while male in his twenties.  He had short brown or black hair and a thin to medium build.  He was wearing a gray short-sleeved shirt with thin black horizontal stripes on the body and a floral design on the collar and end of the sleeves.  He was also wearing blue jeans.  The victim could only describe the bicycle on which they were riding as not a small BMX-type.  The victim met with a police artist, who produced the attached two sketches of the suspects.

Detectives are actively investigating this case.  It is not connected to two other robberies that occurred at Stanford Shopping Center during the first half of January 2017 (and in which two suspects were later arrested in one of those crimes).  For details of those incidents, see the news releases here and here.

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 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 or