A man was caught on security camera video brazenly robbing an elderly Manhattan woman—who was in a wheelchair—of cash she uses for her monthly living expenses. The victim, Maria Vasquez, is now worried about keeping her head above water, telling ABC 7, "I need that money, because my husband passed away seven years ago. Until the money comes next month, I'm not sure how I'm going to pay the bills."
Police are searching for the suspect, who is wanted for grand larceny, and released a surveillance video of the incident. [UPDATE: As of 9 a.m. Friday, the NYPD says a "person of interest" is in custody but has not been charged.]
According to the NYPD, the theft occurred at noon on Wednesday, September 7th, when Vasquez and her caretaker went to the Regine clothing store at 176 East 116th Street in East Harlem. The video shows the man walking behind Vasquez and then taking a white envelope, which had $600 in it, from her dress.
"I was scared. I wasn’t expecting it," Vasquez told the Post. "He reached over and startled me, yanking the envelope from my bra. He scratched me and took off running. I just screamed, ‘Run, run, he stole my money!’ I jumped in my chair because I was strapped in. There was nothing I could do."
She believes the suspect saw her go to the bank and take the money out (her caretaker, who isn't allowed to hold the money, put it in Vasquez's bra because Vasquez didn't have pockets). The senior citizen told ABC 7, "I want him to turn himself in, I don't want them to kill him, but punish him so we can all see what punishment is for the rest of the people that think about robbing others."
The suspect, who fled west on East 116th Street, is described as about 35 years old, 5' 10" and 160 pounds with brown hair, last seen wearing a gray shirt, black sneakers, tan jeans and a tan bag.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782)
The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.