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


Subject :

Police Investigate Second Downtown Robbery Attempt and Assault
Contact : Brian Philip, Detective Sergeant, Police    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- A woman sleeping near a downtown sidewalk was beaten by an unknown suspect during a robbery attempt early Sunday morning, shortly after another failed robbery attempt occurred a few blocks away.  Police believe the two incidents are likely related.

On Sunday, December 2, 2012, at about 1:20 a.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a 9-1-1 call from a woman reporting that she had just been beaten by an unknown suspect.  Officers arrived in the area about a minute later but were unable to locate the assailant.

The investigation revealed that the victim, a woman in her seventies, had been asleep in an alcove of a vacant business in the 300 block of University Avenue.  She awoke to find an unknown male reaching into the pockets of her outer clothing.  The man made a statement indicating that he was looking for money.  The victim pushed him away, but the suspect punched the victim numerous times in the head, face, and chest before fleeing the scene.  The victim was not able to provide a direction of travel for the suspect.  The suspect did not steal anything from the victim, and he was not armed with a weapon.

The victim sustained moderate injuries to her face, including swelling and bruising around her eyes and nose.  The victim received medical treatment at the scene by personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department, and a police officer transported her to a local hospital for follow-up evaluation.

The victim described the suspect as an unknown race male, between 18 and 22 years of age, and 5 feet 6 inches tall with a thin build.  He was wearing a dark sweatshirt with a gray hood.  The victim could not further describe the suspect.

It should be noted that this crime occurred within 15 minutes of a purse-snatching attempted robbery in the 200 block of Homer Avenue (see press release entitled "Woman Fights Off Purse Snatcher in Downtown Robbery Attempt," distributed on December 2, 2012).  In that case, an unknown suspect approached a pedestrian in her thirties from behind, pushed her to the ground, and tried to take her purse.  When she resisted, he punched her 6 to 8 times in the face.  While the suspect descriptions from these two incidents have differences, detectives believe it is likely the same suspect due to the geographic proximity, similar time frame, and the similar actions and apparent intent of the suspect.

While this case was reported promptly to police, detectives needed additional time to more fully investigate the circumstances surrounding this incident prior to distributing this release.

Officers are increasing high-visibility patrols in the downtown area in response to these crimes.  Patrol officers are on the lookout for the suspect, and detectives are actively incident this incident.  Police ask that you report suspicious behavior immediately via 9-1-1, and 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.