Feisty 85-year-old woman in wheelchair speaks out after Bronx robbery

TREMONT, Bronx (WABC) -- Police in the Bronx are searching for a heartless thief who robbed an elderly woman in a wheelchair, and they're hoping surveillance video will lead to an arrest.

The incident happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday in the vicinity of East 179th Street and Marmion Avenue in the Tremont section.

Authorities say 85-year-old Bernice Starnes was sitting in the wheelchair when an unknown woman grabbed her pocketbook and ran.

"We said hello, and she said hello," she said. "And then we said, 'it's a beautiful day.' Then she said, 'It sure is.'"

The purse contained cash and a bank card, and the suspect was also caught on camera later throwing the purse in a trashcan.

"And if I wasn't in this wheelchair, I would've caught her ass and put my foot up in it," Starnes said.

She was not injured, but she lost about $115. Later, officers at the 48th Precinct gave her an envelope with cash they had collected to replace it. It was a very emotional moment, with Starnes breaking down in tears at the gesture.

"That's why they're New York's best," she said. "They're the best. They're the best. They're the best."

Starnes had been saving her money, hopefully to take a cruise to Africa.

"I wanted to go back again, because I liked the animals there," she said.

She also told tales of all her decades, including a career in childcare.

"I took care of children," she said. "Little babies from the time they were born until they're 9 or 10."

The suspect is described as a black female approximately 5-foot-6 and 240 pounds, with a dark complexion and heavy build.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

The theft comes days after the NYPD arrested a man for allegedly stealing $600 from a 93-year-old woman's bra as she sat in a wheelchair inside a Manhattan store. That incident was also captured on video.
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