Video captures callous crook as he steals the cash from wheelchair bound senior
26-year-old Broyoan Lopez surrendered to police officers wearing the same outfit Friday in as he did while swiping $600 cash from the senior citizen Maria Vasquez’s bra two days earlier.
Hours after the arrest, the mugger was heckled by strangers as he was led out of the 25th Precinct station house in East Harlem.
While Lopez was arrested, insulted and incarcerated, victim Maria Vasquez’s stolen Social Security stipend was replaced by a generous East Harlem businessman, who threw in a new pair of shoes, for good measure.
“I’m sorry for what happened to you, I hope this is going to make you feel better,” said Regines department store owner Josh Cohen, crouching alongside the feisty Vasquez’s wheelchair.
“Thank you so much,” replied Vasquez, who was looking to buy a pair of sandals at Cohen’s store before the mugger left her penniless. “God bless you.”
The poignant payback of $600 stuffed inside an envelope came after cops arrested Lopez, 26, of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.The Wednesday afternoon robbery was captured on a store security camera, with the suspect’s face, man bun and clothing clearly visible.
Police hit Lopez’s home Friday, with the suspect answering the door in his pajamas, a police source said. Lopez asked if he could get changed — and returned wearing the same T-shirt, pants and sneakers as the man on the videotape, the source said.
The hirsute hipster holdup man was also sporting the same hairstyle.
He was charged with robbery, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property and held on $25,000 at his arraignment Friday night.
Lopez’s lawyer said the thief, who comes from Puerto Rico, needs medical attention and asked that he be placed on suicide watch. He’s due back in court Sept. 14.
Prosecutors said that it was a “clear case of the defendant preying on the elderly.”
Officers got the lead on his identity when staff of a local bank recognized him from the store video, because he was inside the same branch as Vasquez prior to the crime.
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The robber apparently trailed the victim from the bank to the department store before making his move. The senior citizen said Lopez was lucky their paths never crossed during her youth.
“He only escaped because I have an injured hand,” said the nonagenarian. “If only I was young, I would have fought with the guy. If I was healthy, I would have grabbed him right there and punched him.”
“It feels good,” she said. “I hope I’ll be able to pay for all the things I need.”
Vasquez, who came to the U.S. 33 years ago, said she used the wheelchair to get around after suffering three strokes. “I wish happiness and health for everybody,” said the senior citizen.
“I feel safe, this guy is going to be in jail and not keep robbing people. I want the authorities to punish him, to put him in jail. He has to pay.”
Concerned New Yorkers donated more than $1,900 via GoFundMe to provide additional help for the robbery victim.