Robbery victims morph into detectives to track down stolen jewelry

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A robbery investigation is picking up steam -- not because of crack police work, but rather the determination of the victims.

A Meyerland woman was robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight at Meyerland Court last month. But her family's detective work got some of her stuff back, and may have drummed up leads that police hope will help find the bad guys.

"I just pulled into the spot, ready to get out, opened the door and there was a thief holding a gun," says Gail Stalarow. "The second I opened the door, she was there. And she demanded everything."

The gun-wielding thief got away with Stalarow's purse, watch, wedding ring, and her mother-in-law's wedding ring.

"I was angry. I was violated. I felt like I've worked hard for all these things," she tells Eyewitness News. "And we were crushed that she took my mother in law's ring, which has so little street value. But to us, it was the most priceless thing in the world."

She says she for help, and then went into business mode, canceling credit cards. Soon after, she got a call.

"American Express told us there had been an attempted card usage at Walmart, and they were able to tell us which one," she said.

The thief drove from Meyerland Court to the Walmart at the North Freeway and Crosstimbers. Armed with that info, Gail's son Micah put on his detective hat.

"Once we mapped the area, my son Googled the pawn shops in that area and he came up with a list," she explains.

"We were just like we're going to go in every pawn shop we can because we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into," says Micah Stalarow.

Micah made a flyer with pictures of the stolen jewelry. They found Gail's mother-in-law's ring at Cash America Pawn right across from Walmart.

"I just burst into tears. And truthfully, I hadn't cried up to that point," Gail says.

Their work led to surveillance pictures that police hope will help break the case. Cameras caught a picture of the woman police believe robbed Gail as she left Walmart after trying to use the stolen credit card. They need the public's help identifying and locating her.

She got into a white car with a sunroof, possibly a Buick.

Cameras inside the pawn shop caught the man pawning the jewelry. Police say his name is Derrick Manning, and he's wanted on an outstanding warrant for felony theft. HPD also says they should be considered armed and dangerous.

"I said to my husband almost immediately, there's a reason this happened to me. And all I could think about was it's my job to get these criminals off the street because next time somebody could get hurt or even killed," Gail says.

Anyone with info on either of these alleged bad guys should call Houston Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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