ONLY ON 10: Couple rips off grandmother using a walker, police say

10:09 PM, Aug 13, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - The New Port Richey woman walked slowly through Dillard's doing some afternoon shopping.

It was June 16th at International Plaza, and the 76-year-old grandmother shuffled along with her walker.

Sadly, as many people do, the woman left her purse open. She placed it on a small seat in the back of her walker.

That was all it took.

Tampa Police say a greedy man and woman duo took advantage of the grandmother and stole her wallet right out of her bag.

Police spokesperson Andrea Davis says, "You hear these types of crimes every day, but it doesn't get any easier to hear that it happened to a 76-year-old woman. There's no reason why, in her retirement as she's enjoying her shopping, that she should be a victim of a crime like this."

The grandmother never even realized her wallet was gone until both American Express and Visa called her while she was struggling to get through Dillard's.

"I didn't know why they were calling. I couldn't believe it," she said.

The credit card companies told her that while she was in the store someone had already charged more than $5,000 worth of computers and cameras at The Apple Store and Ritz Camera.

These people weren't wasting any time.

"I mean, they were obviously moving fast. They went into the [Apple] store and purchased two laptops," Davis said. "They went to the Nikon store and purchased an expensive camera. Then, a short time later, they were in Target and that's where we were able to get the best video."

As with many criminals, police say, this duo made a common mistake.

They were caught on camera.

Police describe the pair as a Hispanic couple. The woman, they believe, is between 20-30 years old, while the man is between 30-40 years old.

Their faces are all over surveillance cameras in the mall stores.

Not only was the couple in the mall, they also moved along quickly, detectives say, to the Target store on Waters Avenue.

What surprised police is how bold the woman was.

She is seen on surveillance carefree and relaxed, smiling and chatting with her companion as they left Target.

But, their luck seemed to run out.

Davis said, "They also tried to use her credit card again in Target, but it was declined because her credit card companies had called her within that time and notified her of some spending that she does not do on a typical basis."

This isn't the first time Tampa Police believe this couple has been involved in a crime at International Plaza. They think the same pair was involved in something in June 2009, and now the surveillance video could be the key to finally arresting them.

Detectives admit the surveillance video could crack this case.

"You even see when the woman walks in and turns back and looks at the camera. You have to wonder what's going through someone's mind. Do they just not care? They have to know they're going to get caught," Davis said.

"These are excellent photos. Someone is gong to recognize them, and really it's the proof we need," she added.

If you recognize the pair, you could get $1,000 in reward money.

To visit the Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay website, click here.

Melanie Brooks, 10 News

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