New York Port Authority police helped a Houston woman get her stolen phone from a man holding it for ransom.
Shopping, naturally, lured a bridal party from Houston to New York City for a weekend. They went to midtown Manhattan to find the bride her dream wedding gown.
What happened after left bridesmaid Stacey Ramsey in Louisiana struggling to explain during an exclusive interview with KHOU 11 News.
“Words can’t describe,” Ramsey said via FaceTime. “It’s ridiculous that people would do that.”
As her group dined Sunday, someone swiped Ramsey’s $855 iPhone 7 from her purse. She discovered it missing hours later at her hotel. Ramsey used her work phone to ring her missing personal cell. No one answered after 20 calls.
Ramsey activated her stolen phone’s lost mode, then hoped the thief would call or access the internet through it.
It happened the next morning.
“(He) said, 'Hey, are you missing a cell phone?'” Ramsey said. “I said, 'Yes, sir, I am.' He was like, 'Well, I have it. But, it’s going to cost you to get it back.' I said, 'OK, and what’s that?' He said, '$400.' I walked down to my girlfriend’s room with tears in my eyes. I was like, what do I do? I’m not paying $400 to get my phone back.”
Across West 40th Street from their hotel, Ramsey noticed a New York Port Authority bus terminal and police station. Officers there told her they hear about a lot of stolen cell phones held for ransom, Ramsey said. Police, though, promised to find her phone through a sting.
Officers had Ramsey call her phone and offer the thief $500 to meet at the bus terminal. Seven undercover officers hid nearby waiting.
“One (of the officers) looked like a bum,” Ramsey said. “One was sitting on the stairs acting like he was drinking a beer. The other one looked like he had a broken arm. The female officer was (posing as) my girlfriend.”
Calvin Yearwood, 18, showed up with Ramsey’s cell phone, authorities said.
“I said, 'So, I really can’t have my phone for free?'” Ramsey said. “He said, 'No. I just walked all this way. I need the money.'"
When Ramsey reached into her purse, officers jumped in and almost made matters worse.
“When they tackled the guy, my cell phone bounced (off the sidewalk),” Ramsey said. “I was like, 'Oh, my God.'"
Somehow, her phone, which no longer had a protective case, did not crack or scratch.
While Yearwood went to jail charged with grand larceny, extortion and criminal possession of stolen property, Ramsey missed her flight. She is anxious to get back to Texas with her phone firmly in hand.