Elderly woman followed home from store, robbed in driveway

- An 86-year-old woman had just gotten home from grocery shopping at Walmart when an armed man ran up behind her and demanded her purse. Investigators later told her she had been followed home from the store by the suspects.

It happened Monday around 12:30 p.m. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is now on the hunt for the suspect and his getaway driver.

The victim wasn't hurt. But she's too shaken up to talk about what happened, after having a gun pointed right at her. Fortunately for investigators, a camera caught the whole thing.

Surveillance images show the woman in her driveway unloading groceries, unaware of the threat behind her. Walking up from the street is a man raising a semi-automatic handgun, completely aware of who and what he's after.

"Nothing more despicable than robbing our elderly and victimizing our children," said Larry McKinnon, Public Information Officer for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

The woman had been shopping at the Walmart on Causeway Boulevard. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says the woman had just bought groceries.

She loaded them into her vehicle and drove home. But she wasn't alone.

"They clearly knew it was an elderly woman. They did surveillance on her from the store," McKinnon said.

Investigators say at least two suspects followed her home and parked nearby. Once she started unloading her groceries, a black man - wearing a red hat, red bandana, and a black shirt, pants, and shoes - got out of the passenger seat of a 2014-2017 dark gray Toyota Corolla and ran toward her.

The man was armed with a silver semi-automatic handgun and forcefully removed her purse before running back to the car and taking off.

"They followed her home and not only took her purse, but I guess felt the need that somehow they had to produce a gun to make her give up her purse as if she was some type of threat," McKinnon said.

The victim's purse was found in a trash can at the Git-N-Go on Rideout Road in Tampa a short time later.

"Obviously, they were for quick cash, credit cards," McKinnon said.

Frequent Walmart shoppers like Nichole Davenport are concerned to hear of a crime like this originating at a store they find relatively safe.

"The guy has got to be pretty desperate," Davenport said. "To know that somebody followed someone home from this store, it's pretty creepy. It attributes to the fact that we are living in a day and age where we need to be aware of our surroundings."

Though the victim got away unharmed, investigators are anxious to get these thieves off the street before someone else is.

"It really just goes to display how despicable these suspects are to do that to anyone, not to mention an elderly woman like this," McKinnon said.

Anyone with any information about the suspects is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at 813-247-8200.

Anyone who wants to be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS(8477) or report anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com.

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