New York police arrest man in robbery of 93-year-old woman in wheelchair

Theft caught on camera

NEW YORK -- A suspect was arrested Friday in connection with a robbery of a 93-year-old woman that was caught on surveillance video in New York City, CBS New York reports.

Police found the suspect Friday morning after finding clues through surveillance video.

Broyoan Lopez, 26, was charged with robbery, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, according to police.

Lopez had no words, hanging his head down and ignoring reporters’ questions as he was led out of the 25th Precinct stationhouse Friday morning.

New York City detectives lead Broyoan Lopez out of the 25th Precinct stationhouse after his arrest in a brazen East Harlem robbery on Sept. 9, 2016.
New York City detectives lead Broyoan Lopez out of the 25th Precinct stationhouse after his arrest in a brazen East Harlem robbery on Sept. 9, 2016. CBS New York

Police said Lopez was seen on surveillance video reaching into 93-year-old Maria Vasquez’s bra as she sat in her wheelchair Wednesday inside of a clothing store in the East Harlem neighborhood and grabbing an envelope filled with $600 in cash.

Police also said they saw Lopez on video at the bank where she cashed her check and say he followed her – having seen where she put the cash.

On Friday, Vasquez was back at the scene of the crime. This time, she was there to gratefully accept a gift of $600 from the store along with a pair of shoes that her home health attendant was helping her shop for when the thief took advantage.

Speaking in Spanish, Vasquez said the young man was very fresh reaching under her shirt in such a fashion.

Vasquez said the man yanked her arm and scratched her chest when he grabbed the cash, but she was not seriously hurt.

She said God gave the man his two arms to work hard, not to rob helpless people.

The incident enraged people in East Harlem.

“Just shows you the community don’t stand for that,” said resident Rolando Sierra. “That could be anybody’s mother.”

The store had recently installed a high-resolution security camera. There was even a security guard.

The store’s co-owner said he has never seen a crime so brazen.

“It’s horrible, horrible,” said Josh Cohen. “I don’t know how people would do that, something like that.”

“I hope he gets his [expletive] whooped, you know?” a man said. “I know in prison, they don’t allow that, you know? They don’t like the old people getting robbed, like that could be anybody’s mother.”

Many people have come forward wanting to help Vasquez, Cohen said.

“I believe we got phone calls from a lot of places, even as far away as Belize and other places in Central America,” Cohen said. “We put them in touch with the bank.”

The bank is the Banco Popular where Vasquez cashed that check, which is collecting any donations for her.

Vasquez said she just needs to pay her rent and bills. She left the store Friday with the money in her daughter’s purse.

“At her age, she has to enjoy every moment she has,” Cohen said.

One of the managers, named William, said it was the least they can do for a woman they call a wonderful, regular customer.

“Very regular customer who has been shopping here for years,” he said.

Law enforcement sources said this was Lopez’s first arrest, and they tracked him down with surveillance video from the bank. He apparently made a transaction using his own account.