Deputies: Couple brings three-year-old to jewelry store heist

Posted at 6:26 PM, Dec 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-16 06:22:20-05

A Charlotte County couple is accused of bringing a three-year-old to a jewelry store heist.

Tiffany Zukowski and Thomas Burnett both face robbery charges, but Zukowski is also facing an additional charge of child neglect. Witnesses told Charlotte County Sheriff's deputies Burnett and Zukowski sped away in the Port Charlotte Town Center parking lot.

"Oh my god, I couldn't believe it. She is a nice kid. I can't believe she can get in that kind of trouble," said Jeannie Farnell, one of Zukowski's neighbors.

Farnell says Zukowski lived at mom's apartment and just couldn't get over her involvement in the Kay Jewelers heist.

"She worked hard at a motel cleaning rooms. She'd come home, get her baby, walk up with her garbage and say, 'hi'. She was always happy until she met that person [Burnett] she was with," said Farnell.

The store clerk told deputies Burnett wanted to look at a gold necklace. When the clerk showed it to him, Burnett snatched the four thousand dollar necklace from his hand.  He then sprinted to the north exit where Zukowski was waiting in the getaway truck, a Chevrolet pick up. But, she wasn't waiting for him alone. Her three-year-old son was in the car as well.

"That's crazy, people do crazy stuff for their boyfriends not thinking about their child," said Loneija Brandon, another of Zukowski's neighbors.

Zukowski says Burnett told her he was running because he got into a fight at the mall. But in the report, she went on to say "But I know nothing about the necklace."

Deputies never mentioned anything about the stolen necklace to her, trapping her in a lie.

"I think he a real bad influence on her. I don't think she should've been with him, she was good by herself," said Farnell.

Neighbors hope her arrest will be a wake up call.

"If she wants her baby back, she better do what she has to do," said Farnell.

Neighbors told 4 In Your Corner that Zukowski's son was handed over to his paternal grandparents. The Department of Children and Families confirmed the little boy is in the care of family