On August 6, 2009, a report was taken by Polk County Sheriff's Office reference to a theft of wallets taken out of purses from employees at Timberwood Nursing home. The wallets contained cash and credit cards. These credit cards were later determined to have been used at Livingston Wal-Mart to purchase several hundred dollars worth of merchandise which included food items and electronics. One of the cards was also used at Raceway across from Wal-Mart to purchase gas. An attempt was made to use one of the cards at Sonic in Corrigan.
Alicia Garza (Dubbed the Tamale Bandit) poses as a tamale sales person. She steals purses, wallets, cash and credit cards. She's also known to make her tamales from cat and dog food.
A copy of video surveillance from Wal-Mart was obtained through their Security. On the video it showed a Hispanic Female using the credit cards to purchase grocery items from the front registers. The same female was observed using the credit cards in electronics department to purchase various electronic items. The female was seen leaving the electronics area and was joined by a Hispanic Male subject. Both subjects were seen leaving Wal-Mart in mid size white in color car. Vehicle description was given to Patrol Deputies to attempt to locate the vehicle especially around Corrigan area. Deputy Romero started looking for the vehicle in Corrigan due he thought he had seen the car in that area before. Deputy Romero then made contact with Officer McKenzie with Corrigan Police Department. Officer McKenzie stated that the description of the subjects and the vehicle matched the same as suspects in a case he was investigating. Officer McKenzie stated that he had been in contact with an Officer Moffett with Grapeland Police Department in Houston County who was working several cases involving Credit/ Debit Card abuse. According to Officer Moffett a Female subject named Alicia Garza has been charged with Theft and forgery of financial instrument. Moffett stated that Garza goes into a business mainly Hospitals and Nursing Homes and would ask if anyone would like to purchase tamales. The buyer will give her money and she watches where the purses are kept and slips back in when the owners are not watching and steals the purses, wallets, cash and credit cards.
Garza has been given the name "Tamale Bandit". Garza is sometimes accompanied by her husband Celestino Garza and her daughter Aroise Garcia. Similar offenses have occurred and are being investigated in Angelina, Houston, Nacogdoches, Trinity and Brazos. Alicia was arrested when she showed up for a scheduled visit with her probation officer in Duval County.Alicia was estimated to have stolen an average of $3,000 to $5,000 a week from customers at hospitals, nursing homes and other business where she sold tamales. It was also determined that she used cat or dog food to make the tamales. Through the investigation using photos obtained form other Law Enforcement agencies the two subjects involved in using the stolen credit cards at Livingston Wal-Mart have been identified as Alicia Garza and her husband Celestino Garza also known as the "Tamale Bandit".
Warrants will be issued through Polk County for the arrest of both Alicia and Celestino Garza.
Detective Raymond Lofton, Criminal Investigation Division, Polk County Sheriff's Office
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