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Teen accused of stealing car from 85-year-old widow

Posted at 5:54 PM, Nov 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-01 19:20:26-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An 85-year-old widow has her car back Thursday after police say a young man stole it while she was doing yard work.

The theft happened Wednesday near 44th and Holly streets in the West Plaza neighborhood.

"I didn't sleep last night. I couldn't eat," Zaida M. Burton, the victim, told 41 Action News.

Burton's Halloween nightmare began when police say a 16-year-old boy walked up to her backyard asking for food.

"So I gave him Pepsi. I gave him some candy and some cookies and crackers," Burton said.

She even gave him $7 for lunch.

In exchange, the teen helped Burton pile and bag the leaves in her yard. Before he left, he asked to use the restroom, so Burton let him into her house.

"And so he saw the purse and took my two sets of keys for the car, took my money out of my billfold," Burton said.

Security cameras from Burton's next-door neighbor, Ken Williams, captured the teen waiting for the right moment.

The surveillance video shows him jump over a fence and go into Burton's garage as she stands just feet away. 

Moments later, Burton's Ford Escape is gone.

"I wish I'd been paying closer attention because if I had seen that guy sneaking over into the garage, I would've been around in front of the garage with an AR-15," Williams said.

Burton's neighbors were upset about the theft.

"She's always looking out for everyone, so it's really disheartening that, you know, we do our best to look out for her but that something like that would happen," said Mary Kate Vatterott, another one of Burton's neighbors.

On Thursday morning, Kansas City police officers spotted the stolen SUV near Highway 71 and 39th Street. After a brief chase, police arrested the teen. 

"It must be somebody who has done this. He knows how to follow through," Burton said.

She added that an officer told her the suspect is part of the "scooter gang" that 41 Action News reported on in November 2017.

The group zooms around area neighborhoods, rifling through cars and garages.

According to KCPD crime statistics through August, car thefts are up 1 percent from last year, at just under 3,000 in the patrol bureau.

"It was an especially despicable act for somebody to come and take advantage of her goodwill," Williams said.

Burton said she'll now think twice about trusting another person again.