SANTA ROSA, Fla. (WALA) - A woman wanted in several instances of purse theft in both Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties was arrested in Georgia.
Authorities arrested Rebecca Smith, 45, for the purse thefts which occurred in Aug. 2012.
Mary Greene, 92, said a woman claiming to be from a local church came into her home in August, offering to pray with her. Instead, the woman left with her credit card.
Authorities said Smith is suspected in the crime.
"I think about how after all these years, it had to happen to me when I'm old and can't do anything about it," said Greene.
Deputies said Smith would typically approach an elderly person's home, make up a story and then steal their purses. They say then she would go on a shopping spree at their expense.
In Greene's case, that meant hundreds of dollars charged to her account in local stores. She said in the seven years since she lost her husband, she never felt unsafe until now.
"Sometimes, I'm too afraid to go sleep in my bed. I look over my shoulder a lot. When I go to the store and see someone, sometimes I go ‘Oh, maybe that's her," Greene said.
Authorities believe the vehicle Smith used may be the same one seen in multiple surveillance videos.
"I hope she pays for all the times the victims stayed awake at night and wondered, Why?," said Greene, "I'm tickled to death they caught her. She can't frighten anyone else."
Investigators in Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties are planning to extradite Smith but they said that will not happen until the charges there are disposed.
Deputies in Georgia said Smith was staying with friends and family there when authorities arrested her for committing at least one purse theft and using a credit card fraudulently in their jurisdiction.
Smith has been previously convicted of burglary, theft credit card fraud and forgery. She was sentenced on 11/27/2010 to 10 years probation after serving five years in state prison for those crimes, which occurred in 2006-2007.
Authorities said her methods then match her method of operation in the cases she is currently accused of. In Santa Rosa County, Smith is charged for crimes against four victims aged 91, 78, 77 and 43:
- 2 counts of felony violation of parole,
- 4 counts of felony illegal use of credit cards to obtain over $300
- 5 counts of felony larceny-grand theft
- 1 count of felony larceny over $300 from person over 65 years of age
- 3 counts of misdemeanor theft of credit cards
- 2 counts of misdemeanor petit theft
Federal authorities say an Alabama man has been charged in a slaying at an Army post in southeast Georgia, but officials are releasing few details about the case.
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