Town searches for flower thief, elderly woman gets caught on camera
CHATTOOGA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -
A 74-year-old woman was put behind bars after she was caught stealing mums in Chattooga county.
Residents in Lyerly, Ga. -- population around 500 people -- were on high alert the past few weeks. Some even turned to social media to try and to track down the town's "flower thief."
Some residents were so upset about someone stealing the town's mums that they even set a $300 dollar reward. The flower thief last struck over the weekend, and a liquor store caught the whole thing on tape.
Steven Wigley said flowers mean a lot to the people of Lyerly.
"Everybody stops and checks the flowers out," he said.
But recently -- "Somebody's been swiping all the flowers," Wigley said. "It's been going on for the past month or so."
"It seems desperate to come and steal the flowers like this," said Calvin Koonce.
Pots of flowers were lifted several times in different places around town. After the mums outside of TJ's Package Store went missing in broad daylight on Saturday, owner Tony Patel checked surveillance.
"I check the camera, and I see the lady," Patel said.
Nita Franklin, 74, was the woman on camera. She drove to Lyerly from Cherokee County, Alabama.
When she pulled into the liquor store parking lot, the yellow mums are clearly out front.
She went inside the liquor store. Patel said she asked the clerk if he could see her outside. He told her he wasn't watching her, and he was too busy working.
Franklin then went back outside, waved at cars passing by, and then stopped a man with a garbage bag in her hand.
After the male customer walked inside the store, Franklin returned to the flowers, put something in her car, shut her door and and drove off. As she pulled away from the flower pot, the mums were nowhere to be found.
"He was probably thinking this lady's crazy right here," Koonce said, reacting to the store owner watching the security footage.
Franklin was arrested after being spotted back in Lyerly on Tuesday. Two residents split the $300 reward with checks made out for helping "catch the flower thief."
Residents hope Franklin stays out of Lyerly, and the flowers stay rooted where they're at.
"That's pretty bad to get stuck in jail over seven dollars worth of flowers," Koonce said.
Franklin was charged with one count of theft by taking. She was released from the Chattooga County Jail on an $810 dollar bond.