HOUSTON — A Houston man who was followed from a west Houston bank and then mugged in February is asking for help catching the people who attacked him.
Raed Karaja said he thinks he was targeted after robbers saw a thick envelope of cash he was given when he left a nearby Capital One Bank. Karaja said he went to the bank to cash a cashier’s check he was given after selling a car. It was for $10,000.
"'What bills do you want?'" Karaja said the teller asked. "'20s or hundreds?' I told him I need $100 bills because $100 bill is small, I put (it) in my pocket, nobody sees."
But instead of being given 10 $100 bills as he asked, Karaja said the teller gave him all 20s and put the money in a yellow envelope.
After leaving the bank, Karaja said he drove a few miles away to visit a friend at his auto shop. Surveillance video showed what happened next: someone got out of a silver Toyota Corolla and ran over to Karaja’s vehicle. The man opened the door and grabbed the envelope. Then, the thief jumped back into the getaway car.
Karaja tried to stop the driver and opened his door. Then, the driver crashed the Toyota. Karaja said the driver put a gun up to his face.
"I see the gun -- in two seconds, he put the gun in my head, in my head, you know? In my eyes. I see the gun, I can do nothing," Karaja said.
The passenger with the envelope jumped out of the car and ran away. Karaja and the other workers took off after him, but they couldn’t catch him. Then, the Toyota drove away.
Karaja said police told him the Toyota turned out to be a rental car and the woman who rented it said she didn’t know who’d been using her car. Worst of all, Karaja said the cash was going to pay his $7,000 property tax bill. Last month, he was only able to pay $500 toward the balance.
"Every month, they have a $1,000 late fee for the tax," Karaja said. "Starting the first month, 9%, second month is 15% and this month is 25%."
But nonetheless, Karaja said he’s grateful to be alive.
"I have five kids. I have to be alive for five kids," Karaja said. "I have to work more."