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


Subject :

Woman Fights Off Purse Snatcher in Downtown Robbery Attempt
Contact : Ron Harris, Officer, Police    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- A woman walking near downtown early this morning thwarted a robbery attempt and was able to keep her purse despite her attacker punching her in the face several times before fleeing empty-handed.

On Sunday, December 2, 2012, at approximately 1:07 a.m., a woman ran to the Palo Alto Police Department's parking garage on the corner of Forest Avenue and Bryant Street, screaming for help.  A police employee working inside the building heard the screams and exited to find the victim crying and bleeding from her nose.  The woman reported that she had just been robbed. 

The victim, a woman in her thirties, was walking in the 200 block of Homer Avenue.  She was listening to music, and had both ears covered with headphones.  She was suddenly pushed down to the ground from behind by an unknown suspect.  As she was falling, the victim felt the suspect tugging on her purse.  The victim rolled onto her back and held tightly to her purse as the attacker began to repeatedly strike her in the face.  He hit her between six and eight times.  The victim then kicked the suspect in his midsection, causing him to back off of her and flee empty-handed.  The victim got up off the ground and ran after the suspect.  She chased him westbound on Homer Avenue, to northbound on Ramona Street, to eastbound on Forest Avenue, where she stopped at the police garage and yelled for help.  The suspect continued eastbound on Forest Avenue and the victim lost sight of him.  Officers from the Palo Alto Police Department scoured the area but were unable to locate the suspect.

The victim described the suspect as a black male in his twenties or thirties.  She said he was over six feet tall, and was wearing a dark or black long-sleeved hooded sweatshirt or jacket, and dark pants.  He wore the hood over his head.  The suspect was not armed with a weapon.

The victim suffered swelling to the left side of her face and had cuts to one of her lips.  Personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department attended to the victim, and a police officer transported her to a local hospital for follow-up evaluation.

Police recommend that people remain aware of their surroundings when out for walks, and report suspicious behavior immediately to 9-1-1.  And while it may not prevent a robbery, police also recommend that pedestrians and joggers not cover both ears with headphones, so as to be better aware of their surroundings and anyone who may be approaching them from behind.

Detectives from the Palo Alto Police Department are actively investigating this incident.  Police ask that anyone who may have information about this crime contact 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.