Police impersonators steal $10,000 protected by giant snakes

Marcus Solis Image
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Police impersonators steal $10,000 protected by giant snakes
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Marcus Solis has the details on the two women caught on video posing as police officers.

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- A manhunt is underway for two women caught on surveillance video posing as police officers and telling a 78-year-old woman they needed to search her apartment.

Police say the pair stole $10,000 from the home in Washington Heights.

Eyewitness News reporter Marcus Solis spoke with the victim's grandson, 19-year-old Chris Hungria, who thought he had the perfect plan to safeguard his money -- two huge Burmese pythons in an enclosure protecting a lockbox. He still has the snakes, but the cash is gone.

"Nobody knows I keep my money there," he said. "Nobody. That's why I leave my money there, so my snakes could bite their fingers off."

The women came to the apartment two weeks ago, when Hungria wasn't home. But his grandmother answered, and the fake plainclothes officers said they were looking for a friend of Hungria's who was missing.

"They spoke Spanish," Gloria Santos said in Spanish. "They showed me the badge. They said they were looking for Christopher."

One suspect spoke to her, while the other searched the apartment and eventually found the safe.

"They broke into it, took it to the bathroom, took all the money out," Hungria said. "One was distracting my grandmother while the other did the dirty work."

Video shows one of the women carrying a large bag, presumably stuffed with $10,000 Hungria had saved mostly by charging tourists to take photos with the slithery reptiles.

Now, he is the one hustled by two real-life snakes.

"Very sneaky, clever, mischievous," he said. "Very back stabbing, because it's someone who knew me, for sure."

Anyone with information is urged to contact police.