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Collier woman talks about being ripped off by would be good samaritan

Posted at 7:18 PM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-31 19:19:18-04

A Naples woman says her neighbor stole $5,000 from her purse while she was attending to her injured dog.

4-In-Your-Corner first brought you this story Tuesday.  

Nelsy Avilla was carrying nearly $10,000 in cash, she says she had been saving for weeks to send her mother on vacation.  Instead she used some of the money for vet bills, and the rest was stolen.

"I just asked you for 5 minutes to watch my back, not to go inside the purse, not to go inside the wallet," said Avila.

But Deborah Lazarou did go inside Avila's unattended purse and stole nearly 5,000 dollars according to Collier deputes.

Surveillance video at the Animal Specialty hospital helped deputies charge her with grand theft.

Investigators say it started when Lazarou ran over Avila's dog, "Prince", in the Sierra Club apartment complex parking lot.

"I grabbed him, he was crying of course" said Avila.  "And the lady stopped and said I'm sorry, don't worry I'm a nurse."

Lazarou drove Avila and Prince to the vet, where Avila told us they would not treat prince unless she paid up-front $4,000.

The remaining $5,000 dollars was in her purse which she says she left in the lobby asking staff to look after it while she said goodnight to her injured dog.

"I was crying, I was heartbroken.  I wasn't thinking about my wallet, I wasn't thinking about the money that I had."

But Lazarou was thinking about Avila's money.

Even after investigators say she stole the cash, she drove Nelsy back home.

Nelsy had no idea the cash was gone until she got home, but she did have a strange conversation with her on the car ride back.

"She said no I don't like humans, I'd rather deal with animals than humans, and I said: But you're a nurse."

Nelsey moved out of her apartment complex because she doesn't feel comfortable living near Lazarou.  Lazarou was released from the Collier County Jail Tuesday.