7On your side: $25,000 cash withdrawal - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7On your side: $25,000 cash withdrawal

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(Source: KPLC) (Source: KPLC)

It's a shocking crime: the theft of more than $25,000 from a woman who withdrew cash when she closed her bank account. She was followed and her purse snatched.

The case is a reminder to avoid carrying large amounts of cash, even if you're just planning to run down the street to another bank.

"I'm still shocked. I still can't believe this has happened to me here," said Diana Villarreal of the theft that took place on Wednesday, February 19.

That morning, Villarreal made a spur-of-the-moment decision to close her account at the Capital One Bank branch at Nelson and Country Club Roads in Lake Charles. She took the balance, which she says was actually more than $25,000, in cash. But the transaction took longer than she thought, so she went back to work with the cash in hand.

"I was consumed with -- just torn with -- like 'I need  to stop at the bank,' 'I need to deposit this money,' but at the same time, I have a very high work ethic, and I didn't want to be late to my eleven o'clock meeting," said Villarreal.

Villarreal says two men followed her from Lake Charles to Sulphur. One grabbed her purse and ran to a waiting, green van.

"He took off running, and he stayed on the pavement until he got to that tree line right there, and then he cut across to get to the sign and to where the van was moving. I saw the van moving in that direction to exit," she said.

Her purse, absent the cash, and a jumpsuit, similar to hers, was thrown out of the car in the area after you exit the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge and curve toward the Lake Charles Civic Center. Villarreal admits it was a bad idea to take the money in cash.

"Just thinking in my mind that I was just going to go down two blocks and deposit that money immediately, honestly it didn't even enter my mind. I made a stupid decision," said Villarreal.

Sulphur Police Chief Lewis Coats advises against carrying large amounts of cash, even for a short distance.

"Obviously, don't have that much cash in your possession at one time. I'm not saying it was a bad decision. I just think there's other means of transferring money from one bank to another without having the actual cash in your possession," said Coats.

Still, she speaks out, hoping someone with information will help solve the case. She also wants to keep others from making the same mistake.

"I'm embarrassed, but I'm even angrier than I am embarrassed that this happened. I'm angry. I want whoever did this to get caught. I don't want this to happen to anybody else. I'm hoping that others do learn (and) get a cashiers check," said Villarreal.  

And her message to the criminals: she won't give up.

"We're going to come after you, and for me that means I've had to get personally involved in what it is that's happening and educating myself," said Villarreal.

Villarreal is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
A spokesman for Capital One Bank said they are cooperating with police but cannot discuss the case because it's under investigation.

Villarreal says the cash stolen was in $100 bills, about 250 of them.

To hear more details from Villarreal look for our web extra.

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