Home News 97-year-old Harlem woman rattled after broad-daylight robbery by man on moped

97-year-old Harlem woman rattled after broad-daylight robbery by man on moped


An elderly woman remains rattled weeks after a moped-riding man heartlessly robbed her in Harlem — the latest in a string of incidents targeting some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Thelma Mason, 97, was coming home from shopping around 5:25 p.m. May 24 when she noticed the man who would go on to victimize her.

I looked at him and he looked at me. I’m just minding my own business and he cranked that thing up and came towards me and just snatched the necklace off my neck,” she told the Daily News on Tuesday.

Mason fell to the ground, sustaining a nasty scratch on an arm and banging her hip, she said. The robber sped away down W. 127th St., according to police. Workers at a nearby pharmacy sat Mason down at a nearby bus stop and called 911, and first responders took her to Harlem Hospital for treatment.

NYPD released photos of a suspect in a mugging of a senior citizen. (NYPD)
The NYPD released this photo of a suspect in the mugging of Thelma Mason, 97. (NYPD)

Surveillance footage from a camera at Ahma Rx Pharmacy on Frederick Douglas Blvd. near W. 127th St. showed the crook had been stalking Mason, said Carlos Santana, the store’s manager.

“He came right here to the bus stop and he was just waiting patiently, patiently,” said Santana, 47. “Once he saw her, he just, like, took off on the scooter, ran up to her and just jacked the chain and just kept going. She was hurt.

“We did call the cops. We sat her on the bus stop right there. That’s all we could do,” he added. “It was bad. Cause you don’t want that to happen to nobody, especially an elderly person. I don’t wish that on nobody.”

Mason, a retired office cleaner, has seen plenty since moving to Harlem in 1951. But she said last month’s incident marked an unnerving first for her.

“I used to work nights and I had no problem,” she said. “I used to party at night, come home 2 or 3 in the morning. Nobody ever bothered me. I wasn’t attacked or anything. 

“Now you can’t even go out in the daytime before they’re taking things from you,” Mason added.

Thelma Mason, 97, shows the scar on her arm from falling to the pavement. (Emma Seiwell)
Thelma Mason, 97, shows the scar on her arm from falling to the pavement. (Emma Seiwell)

The stolen necklace was made of 18-carat gold and had a Gemini pendant, the victim said. A gift from her daughter from years ago, she didn’t know the monetary value of the jewelry but expressed that it had great emotional worth.

“They had to pay a pretty penny for it,” Mason remarked.

Cops on Monday released images of the suspected robber and asked for anyone with information about him to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

For now, the sound of mopeds cruising her neighborhood is giving Mason starts.

“I can’t stand nobody getting close to me now when I’m traveling, especially with these motorbikes,” she said. “I’m always jumping. I don’t know if somebody’s going to attack me again.”

Thelma Mason, 97. (Emma Seiwell)
Thelma Mason, 97, is pictured outside her home on Tuesday. (Emma Seiwell / New York Daily News)

Recent weeks have seen both the very young and the very old become victims of crime.

An 84-year-old woman was struck by stray bullets in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, on Monday, police sources said. She was expected to survive the shooting as the perp remained at large.

In a jaw-droppingly callous robbery on Friday, a man stole $8 from a 10-year-old boy as he and his younger sister walked down a Crown Heights street, police said. That crook is also wanted.

In April, a 68-year-old grandmother was pushed down the steps of a Queens church in a robbery. She was so badly hurt that she didn’t recognize her own family for days as she recovered at a hospital, relatives told the Daily News. The suspect in that case was caught.

“They don’t have any home training at all. They’re not trained or anything because they don’t respect the elderly at no time,” Mason said of criminals like the man who robbed her.

“I was always taught to respect elders and I taught my daughter and my grandson the same thing,” she added. “You give them respect, and if you can help the elderly, you don’t take away from the elderly. You help the elderly.”

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