VIPD recovers $700 stolen from single mom at St. Thomas bank

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ST. THOMAS - When Erika Romo turned her back while at Banco Popular a month ago and had $700 in cash taken in an instant, she thought for sure that she never would see her money again.

She thought wrong.

Last week, Romo received her cash back in full from the V.I. Police, who tracked down the man that they believed stole Romo's money. They identified the man from a bank surveillance video that they subpoenaed from the bank, according to Romo.

"Isn't it amazing?" she said.

Since moving to St. Thomas about two-and-a-half years ago from Mexico, Romo, a single mother, has worked to save money for her daughter's education.

Romo currently works as a server at Hook, Line and Sinker. She had worked extra shifts the last week of March to put money toward her daughter's tuition at the V.I. Montessori School on St. Thomas. Her daughter is in 12th grade at the school, where she is attending on a student visa from Mexico.

On March 29, Romo went to the bank to make a deposit for her daughter's tuition, and she placed the cash on the counter before filling out a deposit slip. At the time, a man came up to the counter and stood beside her, she recalled.

"He just came over to me, and he waited for me to turn around for five seconds," Romo said. "I was doing my math."

As soon as Romo realized that her money was missing, she knew to tell the bank employees.

"I told the guard, and he didn't even move," Romo said. "I asked the manager, 'What are you going to do?' "

The bank manager said that a report would be filed, but Romo knew it likely would not do any good, so she decided to call 911.

Detective Sehkera Tyson responded, Romo said, and Tyson kept telling Romo not to worry.

"She kept telling me, 'Please believe in me. Please believe in me,' " Romo recalled.

Sure enough, on April 22, the police called.

"How they did it exactly, I don't know," Romo said, noting that she had no idea how they found the man in the surveillance video.

Police are not releasing the name of the man who they identified as the suspect because Romo decided not to press charges.

"There's always another side to the story," Romo said.

She hopes that the man sees this as a second chance, she said.

Romo said she also hopes that the bank has learned its lesson, that the employees should call the police immediately to help customers if they experience a similar incident.

"Banco Popular is cooperating in any way it can, but the investigation is being led by the V.I. Police Department," Banco Popular spokeswoman Gabriela Maldonado said Monday in an email.

Maldonado could not be reached Tuesday to comment on what the bank employees' proper procedure would have been in Romo's case.

Tyson also could not be reached, though V.I. Police Department spokeswoman Melody Rames said that the department appreciates citizens using the complaint and compliment system in place at all of the department stations.

Rames declined to comment further about the solved case, as she said that the department does not publicly commend one officer over another for doing his or her job.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email

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