Officer: Suspected donation jar thief confessed after confrontation

Donations were to help family of 7-year-old Heidy Villanueva

By Zachery Lashway - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said a woman suspected of stealing a donation jar meant to help the family of a slain 7-year-old girl confessed to the crime after she was identified and arrested.

After her arrest, Tammy Crews, 46, was charged with felony grand theft and misdemeanor possession of drugs. A judge gave her a $10,000 bond for the grand theft charge.

Surveillance footage shows a woman swiping the donation jar that was placed inside the El Tapatio Mexican restaurant near where a shootout took place that took the life of Heidy Villanueva. The jar was intended to raise money for the young girl's funeral.

"I received a tip on Saturday that a concerned citizen knew who the subject was," said officer Charles Simpson with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. "They gave the name of 'Tammy Crews' and they sent me a photograph."

Simpson said he immediately sent the video to officers in the area and advised them to be on the lookout. Hours later, JSO Lt. Beau Bottin spotted the suspect.

"She was casually walking down 103rd Street," Bottin said.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Crews was arrested and booked into the Duval County jail after acknowledging she took the donations and used the money to "support her crack cocaine addiction."

Crews told police she did not know what the money was for, because the writing on the jar was in Spanish. She also claimed there was $263 in the jar, not $600 as was reported stolen.

According to Jacksonville Sheriff's Office inmate records, Saturday marked Crews' 12th arrest.

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