Palo Alto police detectives are working with investigators in neighboring Menlo Park after similar armed robberies occurred in those cities Tuesday night.
At about 8:15 p.m., a robber approached a man in his 50s who was walking his dog in the 200 block of Walter Hays Drive in Palo Alto.
The suspect shone a flashlight into the man's eyes and pointed a handgun at him, instructing him to empty his pockets and throw his personal items, including his wallet, on the ground, police said.
The victim complied and was ordered to turn around and walk away. As he did so, the suspect grabbed some of the scattered items and fled.
The victim, who was uninjured, told police he heard a vehicle speeding away from the scene.
About 30 minutes later, a woman in her 50s was robbed in the 400 block of Laurel Avenue in Menlo Park. In that case, the victim was also approached on foot by a man who pointed a small black handgun at her and demanded her wallet.
After learning that the woman was not carrying her wallet, the suspect climbed into the passenger side of a waiting dark-colored van, which drove away heading west on Laurel Avenue.
The suspect in both crimes is described as a black man in his 20s who is between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall. He was wearing dark clothing at the time of the crimes, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Palo Alto 24-hour dispatch center at (650) 329-2413. Those wishing to remain anonymous can submit information by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or can text (650) 383-8984.