Police circulate wrong photograph
By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- On Wednesday, police distributed a photograph from a bank security camera that caught a woman supposedly in the act of cashing a stolen check.
St. Petersburg police wanted to learn the woman's identity. After her photo appeared in the Times and other local news outlets, detectives got calls from people who knew her.
Police found her and questioned her Thursday.
It turns out that the woman is innocent. She had gone to the bank simply to cash her paycheck, and authorities mistakenly singled out the wrong bank customer from a security videotape.
"It's clear that she is not even involved in this," said police Officer Jim Giambruno.
Police are looking for thieves who have recently been stealing purses and checkbooks from the cars of parents parked outside preschools and day care centers.
The thieves often write out stolen checks for cash.
Police are investigating 15 such thefts: eight in St. Petersburg, four in St. Pete Beach and three in areas patroled by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
At one bank, authorities went through records to see when a particular stolen check was cashed, then scanned a security videotape from that time of day.
They thought they had found their suspect.
"But it wasn't her. There was a time lapse between when the actual check fraud occurred and when she was there," Giambruno said.
Authorities are reviewing the videotape to try to figure out which bank customer is their suspect.
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