LAKELAND — It’s been said that tis the season to be jolly, but unfortunately in some cases, it could also be said that tis the season to be greedy.
On Tuesday, a Lakeland woman was arrested and charged with stealing musical instruments, a generator, and a gold wedding band from a 90-year-old victim.
The victim, said the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, was the elderly father of a friend. The suspect, detectives added, confessed to the crime and blamed a substance abuse habit.
“It is pretty sad to steal from a friend’s father,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “It’s just terrible to steal from a 90-year-old man who trusted and paid a woman to help do some house cleaning and cooking.”
That woman was 26-year-old Alyssa Dawn Tate of 909 Shirley Ann Trail in Lakeland, who was arrested on Dec. 18 on a variety of felony charges related to multiple thefts and dealing in stolen property.
This is not Tate’s first brush with the law, said Scott Wilder, the director of communications for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
“Tate has a lengthy pawn history, so detectives are asking that anyone who may have had contact with Tate and are missing property, to please contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200,” Wilder said, adding that they should ask to speak with Detective Jessica Campbell.
This case of a modern day Grich, Wilder added, started on Dec. 17 when deputies got a call from a Lakeland resident who complained that his son’s friend, whom he identified as Alyssa Tate, was responsible for the theft of a gold chain and a gold propeller pendant.
An investigation by detectives, Wilder said, mrevealed that Tate had pawned the victim’s property at West Coast Pawn on Nov. 26.
“Detectives and the victim also discovered a skill saw that belonged to him that was pawned, that he did not realize had been stolen from October,” Wilder noted. “Going over the list of pawned items, the victim stated that he recognized some of the other pawned property as belonging to his 90-year-old neighbor, who employs Tate to assist him in house cleaning and cooking.”
Detectives contacted the 90-year-old neighbor, and discovered that he was missing quite a bit — including a banjo, two mandolins, two guitars, a gas generator and his gold wedding band.
Detectives took the elderly victim to Absolute Pawn, where they recovered all of his property except for the wedding band.
Tate was interviewed about the thefts, and after a Miranda warning, “Tate gave a full taped confession and stated that the reason she was stealing property was because she is addicted to prescription pain medication,” Wilder noted.
She was taken to the Polk County Jail and charged in both cases with two counts of grand theft, six counts of fraud and providing false Pawn information, and six counts of dealing in stolen property. She is now being held in the Polk County Jail on $62,000 bond.
“The investigation still continues into Tate’s pawn history,” Wilder noted, while Judd said Tate’s substance abuse problem was not an excuse for any criminal beaviopr.
“I hope Ms. Tate gets help with her drug abuse problem, but she needs to be held accountable for her crimes and provide full restitution for all of her victims,” Judd said. “Drug abuse is not a victimless crime.”
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