Neighbors surprised by 'Grandma Bandit' arrest

September 30, 2009 5:18:12 PM PDT
Police named her the 'Grandma Bandit' -- a mature woman who they say robbed two banks, getting away with thousands of dollars. Now Theresa Gaas, 56, is in custody and her arrest comes as a surprise to her neighbors.Gaas made an appearance in probable cause court overnight. For a woman who has never been in trouble with the law before, she is now facing some serious charges.

In probable cause court Gaas heard the charges against her, in the robberies of two Compass banks Friday. First the bank at 1217 West 43rd Street...

The prosecutor said, "The individual told the complainant I have a gun. Give me all the money."

The teller gave the "Grandma Bandit" $1,966. Then an hour later, a bank robber walked into the Compass Bank on 19th Street in the Heights.

The prosecutor said, "The individual stated I have a gun. Give me all your money."

The teller told police the robber asked for 50s and 100s, and got away with $3,294.

Gaas was arrested after tips to Crime Stoppers. We went to Gaas' neighborhood in northeast Houston, where people were surprised.

Neighbor Efren Mendoza said, "For me, she was a good lady. She never did anything to me."

Neighbors say Gaas wasn't outgoing.

"She kept to herself," said neighbor Maria Mendoza. "Not a neighbor that I'd talk to or see here or go back there and visit, no."

But one man who's lived a few houses down from Gaas' modest two-bedroom home for five decades says she lost her job.

"She hasn't worked in a good while," explained neighbor Isaac Ramirez. "I'd say maybe a year or two."

In fact, Ramirez used to give Gass crushed aluminum cans to sell, to help her make ends meet.

He recalled, "She says, 'Why you giving me these cans?' I told her, 'Well, I think you could use the money.'"

Gaas requested a court appointed attorney. If she's convicted, she could see 10 or more years in prison.

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