General Crime

Police Seek Bicyclist Who Snatched Purse from Elderly Woman and Attempted To Steal Another

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Palo Alto police are searching for a male suspect who rode away on a bicycle after stealing a woman’s purse Wednesday and tried to steal another purse while on his bike minutes later, police said.

Both victims were women in their 60s who gave different descriptions of the suspect, but police think the two incidents were related, police Sgt. Kara Apple said.

“The time and the descriptions lead us to believe it was the same suspect,” Apple said.

At 6:54 p.m. Wednesday, a woman in her 60s called to report that a male suspect had just stolen her purse at a restaurant in the 400 block of University Avenue near downtown Palo Alto, Apple said.

The woman, who was dining at a sidewalk table, had placed her purse beneath the table when the suspect came up to her, said “Excuse me” and grabbed her purse, Apple said.

The thief then ran east down University and got onto dark-colored bicycle, police said.

A passerby who heard the woman’s call for help pursued the bicyclist on foot and last saw him riding east on Lytton Avenue from Cowper Street, Apple said.

At 7:32 a.m., police received a report from a woman who said she was the victim of an attempted strong-arm robbery next to a bus stop on Quarry Road at about 6:45 a.m. that day, Apple said.

A male rode by on a bicycle and tried to yank the woman’s purse off of her shoulder but after a brief struggle she was able to hold on and the suspect rode away headed south toward Palm Drive on either Sweet Olive Way or Arboretum Road, police said.

The victim then went home to phone police, Apple said.

Officers were unable to locate the suspect following an extensive search, Apple said.

One of the women described the suspect as white or Hispanic, and the other said he could have been Asian, but both said he was in his late teens to early 20s, 6 feet to 6 feet 3 inches tall with a thin build, Apple said.

Police hope to have both women work with a sketch artist to agree on a description, Apple said.

Detectives do not know if the suspect focused on the victims due to their ages or because of the opportunities to target them, Apple said.

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