Palo Alto police are warning residents to be on alert after three robberies occurred within eight hours in the downtown area.
The most recent robbery occurred steps from the police department in a stairwell of the Civic Center parking garage as a woman headed to her car after work and was robbed of her cash.
Andrew Fife, a Palo Alto Public Storage customer, was shocked to hear the storage facility was robbed Saturday evening by a man with a silver handgun. The suspect took money from the middle-aged clerk and the business.
"I guess people are really desperate in this economy," Fife said.
Police are tracking a dramatic surge in downtown robberies. In some cases, the suspect is an African-American man in his twenties, with a thin build, carrying a black handgun. But not all.
"There are some similarities between the cases, there are dissimilarities between the cases too.," said Palo Alto police officer Zach Perron. "Everybody's working hard on this one, it's our goal to solve these as quickly as we can."
Extra patrols are visible and and arrest was made Sunday night.
Police say this Vallejo man grabbed cash from a woman in front of a convenience store, and bit her hand when she resisted.
Minutes later, another woman headed down a stairway to her car was robbed by a different man who grabbed her from behind.
"He had a firm grasp on the back of her neck and simultaneously with his other hand, reached into her back jeans pocket and removed cash that she had in there," Perron said.
Kristy Henrich, a Stanford student, said he was surprised by robberies.
"Well, I hope they start telling us about it at school," she said. "I use this stairwell all the time.
Others using the garage said they will also be more cautious.
"I would expect this maybe, East Bay Area, but I feel like this place should be more secure," said Sara Sharif. "We pride ourselves on having a very safe city here in town, and we don't like this happening."
Surveillance video from the public storage may help with the case and investigators said on Monday they hope to have a suspect sketch for the stairwell robbery and possible the one here at the parking garage too.
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