ONLY ON 13: Heart patient describes being a victim of 'sliding' theft

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Heart patient becomes victim of 'sliding' theft, Deborah Wrigley reports. (KTRK)

Trinity, Texas is an hour and a half, and a world away from Houston. As in many small towns, the post office is a popular place and 37-year-old Terri McDougald is its postmaster.

She is also a crime victim.

The crime happened here in Houston near the Texas Medical Center, far from her home in Trinity.

McDougald was born with a heart defect which requires her to wear a heart monitor. Thursday, she met with her heart doctor in the Medical Center to have a blood test.

"I had a lot on my mind," she said, deep in thought while fueling her car after leaving the doctor's office. McDougald was preparing to make the drive back to Trinity.

"I was thinking about more tests, and my grandmother, who lives with me. She's on hospice care," she said.

That's why she believes she didn't see the man who jumped out of a car that briefly paused beside the passenger side of her sedan.

"I heard a woman yelling, 'he's taking your purse.' I thought, 'are you talking to me?'" she said.

By then, the thief and the driver had already drove away, nearly hitting a pedestrian on a walker.

It's called a 'slider,' in which thieves target women who are gassing up their vehicles. Police advise anyone to lock their car even if they're standing next to it.

"I never even heard of such a thing," McDougald said. "Nothing like that happens here."

Her purse was stolen, but it's what was in it that has created anxiety for a young woman with a heart condition, whose dream one day, is to have a child.

"All my medical papers were in it, and medical records for my mother, who's a cancer survivor. And I had my heart medication refilled. It's gone, and insurance won't pay for a refill the next day," she said. The out of pocket cost to her is nearly $2,200. With insurance, it was only $35.

Documentation for her heart monitor is also among the missing documents. She needs them to send the device to the lab. The lab won't accept it without the proper packaging and serial number.

"I might have to have another heart monitor and I don't know if insurance will pay for that a second time," she said.

The thieves have already used her credit cards.

"I called, and the charges are going to be removed," she said.

A police report has been filed. What the thieves may have tossed aside means a lot to her, she repeated.

McDougald lives and works far from the stress of the big city, but for now, it's come home with her. Yet, she has hope and faith, even in a stranger who stole from her.

"I hope they'll remember someone they love who was sick, and they'll step up and do the right thing," she said in a soft voice with a southern lilt.

Anyone with information can call the Houston Police Auto Theft Division at 713-308-3500.

McDougald says she would be "so grateful, more than you would ever know."
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