Police have released a sketch of a bicycle-riding thief who snatched a woman’s purse in downtown Palo Alto last Wednesday and then tried to steal another minutes later, a police sergeant said. A sketch artist drew the picture based on descriptions from the female victims. The suspect is believed to be clean-shaven, in his late teens or early 20s, and between 6 feet and 6 feet 3 inches tall, police Sgt. Kara Apple said.
The victims also could not quite determine whether the thief appeared to be white, Hispanic or Asian, Apple said. At 6:54 p.m. on Jan. 29, a woman in her 60s reported to police that a male suspect had grabbed her purse at a restaurant in the 400 block of University Avenue, Apple said. The woman had placed her purse beneath her table outside the restaurant, and the suspect walked up to her on the sidewalk, told her “Excuse me,” and snatched her purse, Apple said.
The male then ran east down University, got onto a dark-colored bicycle and pedaled away, police said. A passerby followed the bicyclist on foot and last saw him riding east on Lytton Avenue from Cowper Street, Apple said. At 7:32 p.m. that day, police received a report from a second woman who said a male riding a bicycle had attempted to grab her purse near a bus stop on Quarry Road at about 6:45 p.m., Apple said.
The male had tried to yank the purse off of her shoulder but she held on, and the suspect rode away heading 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 conducted an extensive search but were unable to locate the suspect, Apple said. Detectives do not believe the two incidents are related to a home-invasion robbery that occurred in downtown Palo Alto on Jan. 23, she said.
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