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    Elderly man robbed in home invasion

    An 81-year-old man is unloading his car when two robbers - a man and a woman in masks - confront him in his mobile home. They bind him with duct tape and steal his car, phone and cash.

    By CHRIS TISCH, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published September 21, 2002


    LARGO -- Two masked robbers barged into an 81-year-old man's mobile home Thursday night, bound and gagged him with duct tape and robbed him of his money, phone and car.

    Largo police had not arrested the robbers as of Friday evening, but were searching for the man's white 1992 Lincoln Town Car, which has a blue fabric top and Michigan plates.

    The elderly man was not injured but needed an hour to free himself and call police.

    "At first, I thought it was a Halloween prank," the man told the Times.

    The Times is not naming the man because the robbers remained at large Friday.

    Police were called to the man's home at East Bay Oaks, 601 Starkey Road, after the man freed himself and ran to the home of a neighbor, who called 911.

    The man said he was unloading his car when the robbers confronted him in his house. He could tell from their voices that one was a man and the other a woman. They wore hoods and cloth masks, but he couldn't see much else.

    "They just barged in on me. They had me laying on the floor and started binding me up," he said. The robbers tried to tie the man's hands behind his back, but he has arthritis and couldn't be bound that way. So the robbers flipped him on his back and told him to close his eyes.

    The robbers then took his car keys and cell phone, along with the cash in his wallet and money clip -- about $200. They unplugged his phone before leaving.

    After the robbers left, the man worked his way across his kitchen floor to a drawer. He slipped his fingers under the shelf and pulled it out. Silverware danced across the floor when the drawer fell.

    "All the knives were falling on me," he said. "With your hands bound, it's difficult to pick up anything. And even harder to use it."

    He first untied a cord that had been tied around his feet, then pulled off the tape over his mouth. He tried to chew away the tape around his wrists, but couldn't. After about an hour of struggling, he used a knife to slip out of the duct tape handcuffs.

    Marty McKenna, a spokesman for East Bay Oaks, said there were no plans for enhanced security.

    "Generally, that's not the type of thing that happens in those communities," McKenna said.

    The man said he hasn't noticed any crime problems or suspicious activity in the area recently. He wasn't sure how the robbers ended up at his doorstep.

    The male suspect is believed to be about 5 feet 11, the female about 5 feet 7. Both are believed to be in their 20s.

    Anyone with information can call Largo police at 587-6730.

    -- Chris Tisch can be reached at 445-4156 or tisch@sptimes.com.

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