Police have released a sketch of a suspect in two violent evening robberies of women near Central Park in downtown San Mateo last week.
The suspect in both robberies is described as a dark-skinned man, approximately 20 to 25 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 160 pounds. He was last seen wearing a dark, puffy jacket and a black flat-billed hat, San Mateo police Sgt. Dave Norris said.
On Nov. 26, around 6:20 p.m., a 24-year-old San Mateo woman was walking her dog through Central Park near the rose garden when the suspect approached her, struck her and stole her purse, according to police. The suspect then fled toward the park's Japanese Tea Garden. The suspect in that attack was wearing a green jacket and black hat.
Two days later on Thanksgiving, around 10:30 p.m., a suspect struck a woman waiting at a bus stop at Ninth Avenue and El Camino Real, very close to Central Park. The attacker in that case also made off with the victim's purse, according to police.
In both cases, police said the women suffered visible but not serious injuries.
Police officers dispatched to the scene following both incidents canvassed the area but could not locate the suspect, Norris said.
Increased patrols by both police and city of San Mateo park rangers will be employed in Central Park. Officials are asking the public to be on alert. Central Park, along with all other city parks, closes at 10 p.m.
Officials warn that attacks like these come by surprise, as opportunistic criminals strike when a potential victim is distracted -- many times when a victim is using a mobile device.
To avoid becoming a victim, police advise people to always be aware of their surroundings and leave browsing on mobile device for a time when the person is in a safe environment.
Anyone with information about the two robberies is asked to contact police at 650-522-7650 or on the secret witness line at 650-522-7676. Anonymous texts can be sent to police at 650-262-3473.