RUSKIN, Fla. (FOX 13) - A Ruskin woman's generosity ended with her being the victim of a carjacking at the hands of a man pretending to be a panhandler, Hillsborough County deputies said Wednesday.
The woman was at a Dollar General on East College Avenue when she was approached by a man asking for 50 cents.
"She goes into her purse to try to give him some money and instead of taking it and saying 'thank you,' he pushes her over and ends up stealing her vehicle," said Crystal Clark, a spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
The man, identified as Raul Perez, 30, took the woman's 2014 Ford Escape, but he didn't get far. He lost control of the vehicle after driving about a quarter-mile down the road.
Deputies said Perez ditched the vehicle and tried to hide in a nearby home, but neighbors were watching.
"My sister [saw] that he ran around the house and then ran around the front and went through that door," said Lloyd Pippin; the SUV crashed in front of Pippin's home.
"Once he got inside the house, he took off the clothes he was wearing during that carjacking. He took a shower and by the time our K-9 units were able to track him down at the house, he was hiding inside of the attic and he ended up falling through the roof," said Clark. "They were able to get inside the house. They found the guy. They found the clothes he was wearing hidden behind his kitchen stove. So all the pieces came together and they were able to make an arrest the very same day."
Investigators said the SUV was returned to its owner, who was shaken up but not seriously hurt.
Pippin is glad detectives quickly caught Perez.
"It's just scary, man. I got three grandkids that come over here and stay in the day time, you know? And that scares me," Pippin said.
The family living in the home where Perez was hiding refused to answer any questions from FOX 13, including whether they know Perez, who is facing a carjacking charge.