Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grandma Got Busted...!


Well, it certainly didn't take long! Police have captured the "Grandma Bandit!"

Suspected ‘Grandma Bandit' was desperate, neighbors say

By PEGGY O'HARE and MIKE GLENN Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle

Sept. 29, 2009, 11:07PM

photo
HANDOUT PHOTO

Police say a robber got away with more than $5,000 in cash.

Three years ago, Theresa Mary Gaas joined a civic group to combat crime in her northeast Houston neighborhood and for a time served as the organization's treasurer.

On Tuesday, the 56-year-old woman found herself the one behind bars, arrested by authorities who accuse her of robbing two Houston banks within an hour and taking about $5,200 in cash.

FBI officials declined to discuss a motive, but some neighbors said she told them she was in dire financial straits and had taken to collecting empty soda cans from a nearby yard to help make ends meet. Many were surprised to hear of her arrest.

Mary Chavez spoke with Gaas at a local grocery about two months ago.

“All she said was, ‘I need money so bad. I'm desperate,' ” said Chavez, who lives down the street from Gaas' home in the 1100 block of Egypt. “I wish she had called on people to help out.

“She's a fine lady. It's a shame. When you get up in age, you don't know what to do,” Chavez said.

Ruben Gomez, who lives across the street from the suspected robber, described Gaas as a good — if private — neighbor. Gaas generally kept to herself and had lived alone since her mother died within the past year.

“I didn't know she was hurting for money. If she needed food, we would have helped her,” said Gomez.

Gaas was arrested on two charges of robbery and has been ordered held on bail totaling $20,000.

She is accused of robbing a pair of Compass Bank branches Friday afternoon by claiming she had a gun. The robber did not conceal her face, which was clearly captured in pictures taken by surveillance cameras. Federal authorities dubbed the robber the “Grandma Bandit.”

An anonymous Crime Stoppers tip received Monday led to Gaas' arrest, court papers show.

Gaas was arrested around 9 a.m. in her car near her home, FBI officials said. The lifelong Houston resident lived at her late mother's white clapboard home, which is valued at $71,000.

She had no criminal background.

Active in civic group

Gaas is a member of the North Central Civic Association and has served as treasurer for the group, public records show. At a Metro Solutions public hearing in 2006, she said she joined the civic group “to try to bring down the crime rate here in Houston and this side of town,” a transcript of the hearing shows.

She took an active interest in Metropolitan Transit Authority issues, revealing at that 2006 hearing that she voted for light rail and saying her neighborhood needed Bus Rapid Transit “to improve this side of town,” but noted she was concerned with the cost of the project, the transcript shows.

Gaas is accused of walking into the Compass Bank at 1217 West 43rd around 12:40 p.m. Friday, approaching a teller and saying, “I have a gun — give me all the money,” a criminal complaint shows.

The teller feared what would happen if she did not comply, so she gave the woman the money from her drawer. Robbery investigators believe Gaas got away with $1,966 in cash in that first heist.

She is accused of driving to a Compass Bank at 204 West 19th Street an hour later, walking up to a teller and repeating, “I have a gun — give me all the money.” She then allegedly added, “Give me all the 50s and 100s,” the criminal complaint shows. In that second heist, police believe Gaas escaped with $3,294 in cash.

Both tellers later positively identified Gaas as the bank robber in a photo lineup, court papers show.

At the time of her arrest, Gaas was driving a white Chevrolet sport utility vehicle matching the description of a vehicle seen leaving the two banks after the robberies, FBI officials said. That vehicle, with a disabled parking tag, was parked in the driveway of Gaas' home Tuesday night.

peggy.ohare@chron.com

mike.glenn@chron.com

These are some sad times we are living in, my friends. When things like this happen, you just have to ask yourself WHY!

Oh well, bless her heart! Let's get some coffee and see if we can figure out what we may have done to help!

14 comments:

JoJo said...

Good mornin my Special One, these are indeed sad times when the old need to take these drastic measures. Some have way to much pride to ask for help, but to do something like that is far worse than to swollow your pride. I hope all goes well for her. It doesn't mention any family, that makes it even worse.
Lets have some coffee and yes figure out how it could have been worked out.

YeOldFurt said...

Could this be her way to ensure retirement? Housing, meals and clothing, etc. all furnished by the state? No taxes, no worries about providing for herself? Going Gault?
YeOldFurt

HermitJim said...

Hey JoJo...
She was living with her mother until the mother died in this last year! In fact, she was still living in her mother's house.

Sad indeed! Hey, thanks for coming by today, sweetie!


Hey Jesse...
That's what I was thinking. Almost looks like she was trying to do just that!

Guess we'll never know!

Thanks, buddy, for coming by!

Off Grid Terlingua said...

YES Jim , why is the important part of the whole story.

If people are not starving or about to loose their house or their car and job then you dont usually find this sort of thing.

Also if kids would respect their parrents and take care of their needs when they get older this wouldnt happen.

Where is her husband? did he leave her to shack up with someone else?

The decline of the family is followed by the downfall of civilization.

Grow good families, and maybe they will turn out ok. With all the stuff that is going on today, that is no garuntee either.

She probably saw that crime pays across america and thought to join the crowd.

HermitJim said...

Hey Off Grid...
You can't help but wonder where the rest of the family is...or even if there is more family!

With no support system of some kind in place, no one to sound things off of, it's no wonder that folks sometimes go off the deep end.

I ain't got much, but at least I have friends and family! Thank God...!

Hey, appreciate the visit today, my friend!

Ken said...

...maybe she'll get lucky ?...halfway house or sumthin'...seems events like these are gonna be the rule,instead of the exception...

HermitJim said...

Hey ken...
According to the story, they are only charging her with robbery right now...not as bad as bank robbery. It will be an interesting story to follow, for sure!

I'm sure there will be more of this sort of thing...

Hey, thanks for coming by, my friend!

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

Sad story! We do live in bad times now!
I wonder if she actully wanted to be arrested? She didn´t even try to mask her self, so she must have understood that she would be arrested. Anyway, sad story.
Have a great day now!
Christer.

HermitJim said...

Hey Christer...
I have to think that was her plan all along. She didn't even stop driving her car that was used in the robbery. Who know?

Thanks for coming by today, buddy!

Missi Mi said...

Hi Jim buddy. What a story! Sounds like a serious cry for help to me ..... those of us who have not learnt to swallow their pride and use words to ask for help often result in extreme situations even though logically they may know better and have no previous history. Yes indeed its a sad world when nanna feels she needs to rob a bank of all places. I really do hope they arent too harsh on the poor dear.Disturnbing but interesting story my friend.

Have a great day Jim

xox-Missi-xox

HermitJim said...

Hey Missi...
Always good to see you, pretty lady! I guess that some reach the end of their rope a lot sooner than others...I only wish that someone could have talked to her or somehow helped her over the hard times.

I think we can all think that "there, but for the grace of God, go I".

I sure do appreciate you dropping by today, my friend!

MsBelinda said...

I wonder if her mother's death made her go over the deep end. Since she is only 55 years old she did not qualify for social security.

Wonder if she had a job or if her job was taking care of her mom. It is a sad case specially since they don't mention if she has any other family members.

I know she committed a crime, but I can't help but feel sorry for her.

HermitJim said...

Hey MsBelinda...
How can you not feel sorry for her and whatever put her in the frame of mind she must have been in!

So many questions go unanswered in cases like this. Let's only hope we don't ever find ourselves in this position...

I am really glad you could come by today!

Anonymous said...

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view