Man Arrested for Lewd Act at Safeway

PALO ALTO  A man who committed a lewd act in the self-checkout line of a Safeway grocery store in Palo Alto in January is now in custody, pursuant to a warrant detectives obtained for that crime and a new similar incident that occurred in American Canyon earlier this week.

On the morning of Wednesday, January 26, 2022, an unknown suspect stood very close behind a woman in her twenties while in the self-checkout line of Safeway at 2811 Middlefield Road.  A review of surveillance video showed the suspect masturbating while standing immediately behind the victim.  Once outside the store, the victim noticed what she believed to be biological fluid on the back of her shirt and pants and called police the next day.  On January 29, the Police Department distributed a news release about the incident and included a surveillance image of the unknown suspect and his vehicle.

After the news release went out, a woman in her forties contacted the Police Department to report that the same man had followed her around the Palo Alto Safeway on January 26 as well.  She believed he had been taking photos of her with his cell phone.

Through the ensuing investigation, detectives were able to identify the suspect as 27-year-old Christian Alpha Roberts of Oakland.  Detectives were also able to connect Roberts to a similar crime that happened at a grocery store in Santa Clara on February 13.  Detectives submitted the completed case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for review and obtained an arrest warrant for Roberts on April 14 charging him with sexual battery, battery, and indecent exposure (all misdemeanors) for the incidents in Palo Alto and Santa Clara.  Detectives attempted to locate and arrest the suspect on the warrant but had been unable to find him.

On May 2, 2022, a similar crime occurred in the Walmart in American Canyon with a similarly described suspect.  Palo Alto detectives worked in close collaboration with investigators from the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, who were ultimately able to identify the suspect in the American Canyon case as Roberts.

On the morning of Wednesday, May 4, 2022, personnel from the Napa County Sheriff’s Office arrested Roberts for the American Canyon crime and also served the arrest warrant for the Palo Alto and Santa Clara crimes.  For more information on the arrest, refer to the news release from the American Canyon Police Department.