Crooks steal jeep, gun and ring from elderly man

PASCO COUNTY, Fla (WFLA) – Law enforcement agencies in Pasco County and Tarpon Springs are warning of crooks targeting the elderly.

It started with an 8 On Your Side investigation into the theft of a Jeep, gun, diamond ring and lawn equipment from Bill Gebhardt’s house. Gebhardt, in his 70s, needed a little help trimming his trees so he was thrilled to get a work offer from two young men.

But things quickly went downhill. The men had a story about their truck breaking down and asked to borrow Gebhardt’s Jeep to dump his yard waste and finish the job. They never returned.

“I truly trusted them and was stunned when they didn’t come back,” Gebhardt said.

Then a few days later, with the Jeep still missing, things got worse. Gebhardt told 8 On Your Side the men’s girlfriends showed up with excuses and reassurances the Jeep would be returned. They sweet talked him into hiring them to clean his home. But first, they needed to look around. That’s when other belongings disappeared.
When the women left, a diamond ring and a handgun were gone, too.

Gebhardt now has his truck back, all because the crooks scammed someone else. Tarpon Springs police called with good news: They found the jeep while investigating the case of an elderly woman who was scammed by the same group. It had no gas, was busted up and would not run, but it’s home now.

And Pasco and Tarpon Springs law enforcement agencies are working together, while Gebhardt questions why the crooks were still on the street.

Spokesman Kevin Doll explained the investigation didn’t move quickly because Gebhardt “loaned” the Jeep. At first, it did not appear this was clear case of theft.

Gebhardt has advice for the community, particularly the elderly who may fall victim to similar scams.

“You have to be careful when dealing with people like this. They know what to say,” he said. “They know how to tread the letter of the law.”

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