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Local News

May 14, 2014

Robberies involving elderly could be related

PORT ARTHUR — Elderly victims ambushed at their homes, then beaten and robbed, have Jefferson and Orange County law enforcement concerned that the cases are connected and that the culprit is targeting senior citizens who are out running errands.

Clint Hodgkinson, chief deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s office, said the cases — one in Little Cypress, another in Nederland, and others in Beaumont — are similar.

All involve elderly people, who had been out shopping or running errands, and were assaulted shortly after returning home.

On May 8,  Earl Tipton, 83, had been out running errands when he returned to his home in Little Cypress around 1:30 p.m. As soon as he got inside, Tipton heard a knock at the door. When he answered, a black male forced the door open, hit Tipton in the head and mouth and knocked him unconscious.

Tipton regained consciousness, discovered his wallet was missing, and was able to make it to the Little Cypress Volunteer Fire Department.

Tipton was admitted to Christus Hospital — St. Elizabeth, where he was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit for treatment of intercranial hemorrhage. Tipton was released from the hospital Tuesday, according to hospital personnel.

In Nederland, an 81-year-old man was assaulted in much the same manner on May 9, less than 24 hours after the Little Cypress assault.

The victim said he had been away from his home in the 700 block of South First Street for the morning. When he returned at about 10:15 a.m. and pulled into his garage, he was approached by a black man who beat him in the head, and took an undetermined amount of money.

The victim was taken to The Medical Center of Southeast Texas, then transferred to Memorial Houston Hospital for treatment of serious injuries of his facial bones, Nederland Assistant Police Chief Gary Porter said.

On Wednesday, Porter said he thought the victim was released from the hospital on Tuesday.

“There is certainly a possibility that the cases might be related, we are still trying to figure out what the link was,” Porter said.

Hodgkinson said investigators from the departments are meeting to share information, including those from Beaumont where similar cases have occurred recently.

According to an April 22 press statement issued by the Beaumont Police Department, four robberies targeting elderly victims as they left local businesses, often pharmacies, have occurred since late February.

In all, the suspect followed the victims home, then ambushed them in their garage or driveway. In two of the cases, a black Jeep Cherokee was recorded on store video, following the victims as they left. In the first and second robbery, the suspect was seen getting into the passenger side of a white vehicle, possibly an older model Toyota Camry.  The suspect in Beaumont is described as a black male, average build and average height.  In three of the cases he was wearing a knit cap, according to the press statement.

Anyone with information relating to the robberies is encouraged to call their local police or sheriff’s department. In Nederland call 409-722-4965. In Orange County information can be relayed either at the Orange Sheriff’s Department at 409-883-2612 or at the Vidor substation at 409-769-6391.

Both Hodgkinson and Porter cautioned people, especially the elderly, to exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings when out.

If something looks suspicious call the police immediately.

“This does have some people worried, and rightfully so. Elderly people always need to be vigilant when getting out of cars,” Porter said.

Hodgkinson advised that people be observant to deter potential robberies.

“If someone sees you are observant, they won’t be such an easy target,” Hodgkinson said.

E-mail: skoonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews

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