PINECREST (CBSMiami) – A 94-year-old, World War II veteran is asking for the public’s help in finding a pickpocket who victimized him. As he speaks out, police in Pinecrest are releasing new surveillance video of the suspect.READ MORE: There's Been An Increase In Phishing Scams During Pandemic
CBS4 has also obtained a new photo of the suspect leaving a Bloomingdale’s store after he reportedly used the victim’s credit cards to charge $6,400 worth of items less than two hours after stealing his wallet.
“I feel terrible,” said the victim John Burt, a longtime Pinecrest resident who was an Air Force pilot in World War II.
In an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, Burt said, “The more I think about it I don’t get to sleep.”
New surveillance tape from police shows Burt pushing a shopping cart at 2:42 p.m. inside the Publix Supermarket at 13401 South Dixie Highway. Camera captured him on the right of the screen while the suspect is seen on the left carrying a black jacket and following Burt, looking away.
Burt said he went to the cat food aisle. When he bent down to get some cans of cat food, he felt a bump in his lower back area and noticed that the suspect was bending down at the same time.
“I’m at the cat food aisle getting some things and this guy bumps up against my wallet,” said Burt.
Later, Burt noticed that his wallet had been stolen from his rear left pants pocket.
“I turned around and put my hand down my pocket and found my wallet’s gone,” said Burt. “He got up and out of the store so quickly I hadn’t seen him.
“I ran out of the store looking for the guy and I couldn’t find him. He must have gone right away. He was so fast and so tough looking to me.”READ MORE: Year Old Endangered Florida Panther Struck, Killed By Vehicle
Michelle Hammontree, communications manager for the Village of Pinecrest, said, “I think what jumps out at me is you go to Publix shopping for cat food and you don’t think anything of it and someone comes up behind you and bumps you and steals your wallet and credit cards. That is a violation. It strikes me he saw the gentleman as an easy target.”
“He used the jacket as a tool to conceal the crime,” said Hammontree. “Aside from that, he seemed like everyone else. You would not think he was capable of doing something like that. I think the most important thing is to be vigilant. If somebody bumps into you, make sure you have everything you had before like your purse or wallet. If it does happen to you, report it so we can find the person who did it and put the facts and statistics on the record.”
The new photo of the suspect leaving Bloomingdale’s was taken at 4:23 p.m. on Tuesday, December 29th, 2015. That was just 100 minutes after Burt’s wallet was stolen from the nearby Publix store.
“The man who did this looked a coach, a coach of little league teams,” said Burt.
Burt also has a son who used to be a U.S. Navy pilot and a grandson who is currently a U.S. Navy pilot. He said this incident was a humbling experience.
“It shocks the hell out of you and makes you feel lousy,” he said. “I had quite a few cards I had to cancel, some seven or eight cards I had to cancel.”
Burt hopes this pickpocket will be caught.
“I’m not that young to be able to take this stuff anymore. I’m 94 years old and I am about to be 95 in May,” he said. “I hope they catch him so he will not be able to do this to somebody else. I want to stop this from happening.”
Pinecrest police describe the suspect as a black male who is in his 50s, 5’7” to 5’9”, 165 to 175 pounds, who was wearing white pants, a white long sleeves shirt, green neon colored sneakers, a yellow neon colored vinyl backpack, glasses and a flat cap.MORE NEWS: COVID In Florida: 1,613 New Cases, 35 Deaths Reported On Monday
Anyone with information should contact Pinecrest police or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).