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


PRESS RELEASE 0303201303
Subject :

Police Arrest Suspect for Strong-Arm Robbery
Contact : Brian Philip, Detective Sergeant, Police    650-329-2413
Thomas Joseph Lewis
Palo Alto, CA -- Police arrested a man for strong-arm robbery overnight after he stole cash from a woman downtown and bit her when she tried to hold onto her money.  Detectives do not believe this suspect is involved in any of the other street robberies that have occurred downtown in recent weeks.

On Saturday, March 3, 2013, at about 12:08 a.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a report of a robbery that had just occurred in the 400 block of Lytton Avenue.  The victim, a woman in her sixties, reported that a man had just grabbed money out of her hand and fled on foot within the past five minutes.  Officers responded to the area but were unable to locate the suspect.

The investigation revealed that the victim had approached a group of men standing on the sidewalk and asked them if she could purchase a cigarette.  One of them, later identified as the suspect, handed her a cigarette.  When the victim opened her purse to retrieve some change, the suspect snatched a $5 bill out of her hand and tried to run away.  He accidentally dropped the bill after a few steps, and the victim picked it up.  The suspect grabbed her arm and bit the victim on the hand, causing her to release the bill to him.  He ran away with the money and was last seen southbound on Kipling Street.

The victim received a small abrasion on her hand.  Personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department treated her at the scene.

Through follow-up investigation, officers were able to identify the suspect as 38-year-old Thomas Joseph Lewis of Vallejo.  Officers also identified a vehicle that he may be driving and passed all of the information along to surrounding law enforcement agencies.

Shortly after 2:00 a.m., an officer from the East Palo Alto Police Department saw the suspect walking near the intersection of University Avenue and Donohoe Street in East Palo Alto.  The officer detained the suspect without incident, and officers from the Palo Alto Police Department arrived to take custody of him.  Detectives responded to interview the suspect.  Police booked Lewis at the Santa Clara County Main Jail for one count of robbery (a felony).  A booking photo of Lewis is attached to this release.

Detectives do not believe that Lewis is involved in any of the other street robberies that have occurred downtown in recent weeks, including the incident that happened about 30 minutes after this one in the Civic Center parking garage (see prior press release from earlier today).  Officers are increasing patrols in the area in response to the robberies, and detectives are actively conducting follow-up investigation.

Anyone with information about any of our robberies can 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.