80-year-old woman gets stolen wallet back

Posted March 26, 2010, at 9:24 p.m.

OLD TOWN, Maine — An 80-year-old Old Town woman has been reunited with her wallet — and most of the money she had in it — that was stolen from her after she accidentally left it behind at a local fast-food restaurant on Feb. 3.

Because the woman, whose name was not released, had just cashed her Social Security check before stopping for lunch at the KFC restaurant in Old Town, the wallet contained virtually all of the money she had to meet her living expenses for the month, Old Town police Sgt. Travis Roy said at the time.

When she realized she had left the wallet, the woman returned to the restaurant, and it was gone, Roy said.

The missing-wallet incident received widespread media coverage after Old Town police released to the media images from the restaurant’s video surveillance system showing a man whom police considered a “person of interest” in the wallet’s disappearance.

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The images, Roy said, were enhanced with the help of Brewer police, who in 2008 acquired Star Witness, a sophisticated system that enables investigators to isolate, enhance and sharpen videos, including those from store surveillance tapes.

The release of the images yielded several tips that led Roy and Detective Tom Adams to Cody Brassbridge, 21, of Frankfort, who was charged earlier this month with theft of mislaid or lost property, Roy said. Brassbridge is scheduled to make an initial court appearance in April at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.

One of the tips gave police a name to work with and another led to the company whose blurred logo appeared in an image on the back of the work jacket the suspect was wearing at the KFC, Roy said.

Brassbridge, who had stopped at the Old Town KFC while traveling through the area, told Old Town police that he took the wallet because “times are tough” and “money is tight,” Roy said.

The sergeant said the suspect also told him and Adams that after he had taken some money and lottery tickets out of the wallet, he threw it out of a moving vehicle into the median along Interstate 95. Roy and Adams searched the area where Brassbridge indicated he had tossed the wallet, but were not able to find it initially, according to Roy.

They did locate it in the median, however, after they obtained more specific information about its location from a person who was riding with Brassbridge at the time, Roy said.

In what police say was a stroke of luck, the recovered wallet still contained most of its contents — including more than $600 in cash that the alleged thief overlooked.

“He only got a couple of dollars and some scratch tickets,” Roy said this week. The sergeant said the wad of cash that the robber missed had been tucked inside a zippered pocket on the back of the wallet. The recovered wallet also still contained the woman’s ID and some photographs she carried in it.

“She was very happy to get her wallet back,” Roy said. “She teared up a bit and said that we probably had done more for her than anyone else. We told her we would have done the same things for anyone.”

Roy said that the return of the wallet and the hundreds of dollars inside probably couldn’t have come at a better time for the woman. When he and Adams went to the woman’s home to return her belongings, Roy said, her car was broken down and she had just received a call from her mechanic saying that it would cost about $500 to get it repaired.

Asked whether the woman had made a change to electronic deposit for future Social Security checks, Roy said, “I don’t know. It’s certainly been mentioned. It’s her choice, though.”

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