Miami Beach elderly woman speaks out after thief snatches pricey necklace

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida elderly woman said she was scammed by a woman who offered to help her before she snatched an expensive piece of jewelry that was also a valuable family heirloom.

Speaking to 7News on Friday, Miami Beach resident Helen Mergupis will never forget the conversation she had with a stranger earlier this week.

“I stood right in front of there, and all of a sudden, this little woman comes and started talking to me,” she said. “I talk to everybody.”

But Mergupis, 79, said this woman took advantage of her kindness.

“[I told her], ‘Today is a bad day for me. I got arthritis in my knees,’ and she said, ‘Oh, I’m a healthcare worker. I work at a hospital,'” she said.

Mergupis said the woman offered to help her out.

“She said, ‘Give me your address, and I could send you the medicine,'” she said. “I had the walker, and she followed me up with the dog.”

Mergupis said the woman followed her all the way into her house along Bay Road.

At the time, the victim said, she was wearing her mother’s necklace around her neck. It caught the stranger’s attention.

“Evidently, she was rolling the chain up where my hair is and pulled my hair up to my head,” said Mergupis. “I said, ‘I don’t have arthritis in my head. I don’t have it in my neck.’ I said, ‘It’s only my knees.'”

Mergupis said the interaction lasted a few minutes.

“Then she said, ‘Oh, I’m going to go in my car. I’m going to go in my car. I got some medicine in my car,'” she said.

A surveillance camera captured the thief as she ran and got into a car.

Mergupis noticed her mother’s necklace was gone.

“It was a beautiful necklace, with a diamond and a pendant, and the gold chain,” she said.

For Mergupis, it isn’t about the money but about what that piece of jewelry meant to her.

“I put that on just ’cause I felt like I have [my mother] with me,” she said.

Mergupis reported the theft to police, but she wants other people to learn from her mistake.

“Don’t trust anybody. I always was trusting. Now I learned a hard lesson,” she said.

If you have any information on this theft, call Miami Beach Police or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.

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