Thieves Posing as Apartment Hunters Rob Ukrainian Village Woman

A pair of brazen thieves posing as apartment hunters stole jewelry and cash from a 73-year-old woman in the city’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood on Thursday, and she’s hoping that surveillance camera footage will lead to their capture.

The victim, Martha Espinoza, says she never shows the property on her own, but she was caught off guard when the two men wanted to see the unit. Now she wants to warn others before the thieves strike again.

She was in her apartment at 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon when a man knocked loudly on the door, asking to see the apartment that she had for rent.

Surveillance footage shows the man’s gray SUV pulling up in the 1000 block of North Wood. Cameras also show one of the men using a t-shirt over his hand to conceal his fingerprints.

Moments later, a second man goes to look at the upstairs apartment. While he distracted Espinoza by pointing out areas of the upstairs area, the first man is in her bedroom, stealing jewelry and cash.

“He said ‘this is my little brother. He’s going to see the apartment with me,’” the victim’s daughter-in-law Crystal Espinoza recounted. “He said ‘I’m going to wait for my wife. She’s over there,’ and he pointed to the corner.”

The woman felt something was wrong, and went downstairs to find the man with a pillowcase full of valuables.

“He’s telling her ‘I’m sorry,’ and she’s telling him ‘you came here to rob me, and I’m going to get you. I’ve got cameras everywhere,’” Crystal Espinoza said.

One of the men lingered outside for several minutes before driving off, where he picked up the other man in the back alley and sped away.

Espinoza was not injured during the theft, but is hoping someone will recognize the men in the video.

 “I thank God they didn’t touch her, and that they didn’t get a chance to do anything to her,” Espinoza said. 

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