Police search for woman who followed victim home and attacked her

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St. Petersburg Police need your help finding a pair of suspects accused of targeting a 69-year-old woman.

Police say a woman and man offered to help the victim unload hurricane supplies she'd just purchased. But, when they got to her house, things turned violent.

Think back to last Saturday. You were probably preparing for Hurricane Irma, nailing boards to windows or shopping for supplies. So was this 69-year-old St. Pete woman.

"She went to Lowe's to buy different things to prepare for the storm," said St. Petersburg Police Spokesperson Sandra Bentil. "After she bought those things, she had a hard time getting them into her vehicle."

A man and a woman offered a hand, a seemingly kind gesture.

"In exchange for the good deed, she agreed to help them with gas. They said they were out of gas and they needed help," Bentil said.

She and the woman drove to a Marathon gas station on 34th Street North to fill a gas can. Surveillance video shows the woman inside the store. She has a potentially recognizable tattoo behind her right shoulder.

"They went back to Lowe's, they filled up their tank, and then, they offered to help unload her vehicle of the items she had bought," Bentil said.

They followed her home to 10th Avenue North. That's when she told police that the woman went on the attack.

"She hit her several times, tried to take her purse, she held on, the attack continued and eventually, she let go and that suspect got away with her purse," Bentil said.

A home surveillance camera recorded the suspects' vehicle coming and then, going. The woman, who police say suffered injuries to her face, didn't want to talk about the attack.

"It's sad that it's come to that because if those people really needed something, they probably could've asked anyone on this block and we would've given it to them," said neighbor Judy Werner.

Werner wishes she could've somehow intervened.

"It's so terrible that people try to take advantage of each other, especially, during the storm or in a situation like that instead of looking out for each other," Werner said. "Definitely a crime of opportunity and what a shame."

While you'd like to be able to trust the good intentions of strangers, police strongly suggest that if you ever need help in a parking lot, it's best to ask an employee for assistance. And certainly, never allow someone to follow you home.

If you believe you know who the suspect is or know anything about this incident, please call St. Petersburg Police at 727-893-7780.

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