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'Distraction thieves' steal Tamarac woman's wedding ring, other jewelry

Thieves claimed to be city workers, authorities say

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TAMARAC, Fla. – The Broward Sheriff's Office is searching for a pair of "distraction thieves" who deputies said robbed an elderly woman of her wedding ring and other jewelry.

The incident was reported April 30 and authorities released a sketch of one of the culprits on Tuesday.

"If I saw that guy, I'd punch him right in the nose," the victim, Veronica Casper, 87, told Local 10 News. 

According to deputies, Casper noticed a woman in her yard just after 11:30 a.m. April 30 near the 7100 block of Canella Court.

The victim went outside and asked the woman what she was doing.

Deputies said the woman claimed she worked for the city of Tamarac and was measuring the embankment by the lake so the city could install a wall. 

During the conversation, a man appeared in the yard and also claimed to be a city worker, authorities said.

Deputies said the man began spraying trees in the victim's yard and then sprayed her hand with what he said was a poisonous chemical when Casper reached down toward a tree.

The duo then told Casper to go inside immediately and wash her hands, and the man followed her into her kitchen to "help," authorities said. 

"(He said,) 'Oh, don't touch it, don't touch it. I've got poison in this bottle. Gotta go in the house and wash your hands now,'" Casper said. 

Deputies said the man told the victim to remove both her rings, but the victim was hesitant and concerned about removing her wedding ring.

Authorities said the man insisted and forced the rings off as Casper yelled out in pain.

"Pulled it right off. I screamed cause it hurt," Casper said. 

As the thief was prying the rings off the victim's hands, his accomplice rummaged through the rest of the house and stole jewelry, authorities said.

Deputies said Casper followed the man back out to her yard, but he and his partner were already gone.

Authorities said the duo got away with both of the rings the victim was wearing, as well as a pair of gold earrings and a pair of diamond earrings. Casper said they also stole a diamond necklace given to her by her late ex-husband.

"All these things are precious to me, and this stupid guy," Casper said. 

Authorities said the man is about 50 years old, about 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs about 180 pounds. He has gray hair and a scruffy gray beard. 

Deputies said the woman is also about 50 years old, about 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds. The victim said she had brown, curly hair.

Anyone with information about the thieves' identities is asked to call Detective Mark Copley at 954-321-4238. Anonymous tips can be made by calling Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-877. A reward of up to $3,000 is offered for anonymous tips that lead to an arrest.

About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.