SOUTH TAMPA, Florida - A South Tampa grandmother is doused with chemicals and then robbed by a man who was supposed to be spraying for spiders.
It happened at her home Tuesday afternoon in the 4400 block of West Melrose Avenue just off Westshore in South Tampa. Her favorite jewelry and some cash were stolen.
It all started with a knock at 75-year-old Pat Jordan's back door. She wasn't expecting anyone at the home where she's lived the past 47 years, but she says when a young Hispanic man made her an offer to help her with some yard work, she just couldn't refuse. She let him in.
Jordan says, "'I'm fixing a fence for your neighbors and I'm cutting some trees down, and do you have any trees you need to have cut down?'"
He said the job normally costs $700, but for Jordan he'd take $150 in cash. She paid up, only to be told there was one more thing he needed to do. Jordan says, "And so then he said, 'We need to spray the inside of your house, because if I spray the outside the spiders will come in,' and then he started spraying and then he turned around and sprayed me."
Jordan says the fast-talking man said he'd made a terrible mistake, saying, "I sprayed you. I sprayed you with acid."
The grandmother says the man told her to take off her jewelry because the acid would eat right through it. He told her to get milk from her refrigerator. When she told him she was out, he said grape juice would do the job too. They put the grape juice in a bowl and Jordan started slipping her jewelry in.
But by now, forget the spiders. Jordan was smelling a rat and couldn't believe what she was seeing. She says the man was slipping her favorite jewelry into his pockets. She says he took five of her favorite bracelets that were given to her by her stepmother.
Jordan says, "He had it all in his hands, and I said, 'Give it back. I'm gonna call the police,' so I started to chase him and he ran out the door."
At that very moment, a mother was waiting in her car nearby to pick up her daughter from Coleman Middle School. She saw what was happening and sprang into action. Jordan says, "It was just a gift from God that she happened to be there, chased him down, came back, and comforted me."
Pat Jordan is okay physically. She's just shaken up a bit. It turns out that so-called "bug spray" with "acid" in it was nothing more than a spray cleaner. The Good Samaritan that chased the vehicle down before losing it near Westshore Boulevard was able to get a good description of the getaway car, and evidence technicians say the bad guy in all this left something behind -- plenty of fingerprints.
Meanwhile, Jordan says she wants to get the word out to keep others from falling for this type of scam. She says the whole ordeal was over in about 20 minutes.