Grieving victims help police set up thieves after theft from hospital


by Bryan Baker

Posted on September 25, 2012 at 12:08 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 25 at 1:04 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Two men were arrested for stealing from a grieving family at University Hospital in August. When the family discovered the alleged thieves tried to sell them their stolen items, they turned the tables and helped police set up a sting.

The family had been visiting a loved one who had been in a serious accident days earlier in Madison, Ind. The crime happened when two of the family members were asleep in a hospital waiting room.

Etta Mae Roberts was at the hospital to visit her grandson, who had a severe brain injury. She had fallen asleep after four straight days there. That's when police say Calvin Collins and Anthony Watts masterminded a plan to steal from Roberts and her granddaughter, also in the waiting room.

Roberts remembers Watts was sitting nearby. She had the purse on her arm. She says she awoke when she felt something touch her foot. Her granddaughter realized her cell phone and cigarettes had been swiped from her own purse and then Roberts noticed her entire purse was missing.
They say Watts got away.

One day later Robert's grandson died when the family took him off life support. Later that day Roberts' daughter, Lorene Norris, got a call to her cell phone. A man offered to sell her back the purse and everything in it for $30. He allegedly had found her phone number in the stolen cell phone.

They agreed to meet back at University Hospital, but the men didn't know police were watching.

Collins was arrested with a paper bag in his hand with the purse inside it. Watts, who allegedly stole the purse, was around the corner with the stolen cell phone in his pocket, according to LMPD.

Watts and Collins are charged with receiving stolen property. Watts is still in jail and has multiple alcohol, drug, theft, and assault charges dating back to 2001. Collins has been released.

A University Hospital spokesman told me patient and visitor safety is among a top priority but wouldn't address concerns about security.

Police don't know if the situation is connected to the iPad stolen from a family at Kosair Children's Hospital last week.