The purse snatching occurred around 7 p.m. Saturday evening, when the victim - a woman in her 40s - was returning to her home in the 900 block of El Cajon Way, police said.
After she parked her car in the driveway, the victim got out of her vehicle and noticed a man jogging down the sidewalk in her direction, police said.
The victim approached her front door and heard footsteps behind her, police said. When she turned around, the suspect walked up to her and grabbed her by the shoulders, police said.
The victim began screaming for help as the suspect grabbed her purse and ran toward the street, police said. He was seen getting into a dark-colored four-door sedan that didn't have its lights on, police said.
The car sped away as the suspect got in, and the suspect is still at large.
The man who stole the woman's purse is described as a black man between the ages of 25 and 45, police said. He had very short hair, a medium build, and was about 6 feet tall, police said.
The suspect was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and dark-colored pants, police said.
Police are using the incident as an example to remind Palo Alto residents about the importance of staying cautious and aware of one's surroundings, particularly after dark.
People can avoid putting themselves in situations were robbers may strike by staying in well-lit, populated areas and not walking alone, police recommended.
Also, while circumstances may vary, it is usually safer to comply with a robber's demands and avoid being harmed over property that can usually be replaced, police advised.
The investigation into the Saturday night robbery is still active and ongoing, and police said it may or may not be connected to other recent robberies in the area.
Anyone with information about the crime is encouraged to call the Palo Alto Police Department at (650) 329-2413. Anonymous tips can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or left as a voicemail or text message at (650) 383-8984.