Some Houston area Girl Scouts were shaken up after they tried to fight off crooks who stole the cash box containing money from their cookie sales, but they have received an overwhelming amount of support from the community.
The heist happened Saturday at 2 p.m. in front of a Walmart at West Grand Parkway and Bellaire Boulevard in Fort Bend County, where members of troop #29152 of the San Jacinto Council were selling cookies.
A black Toyota Camry drove up, a man got out of the passenger side and he asked the girls about the cookies. He pretended he was interested in buying several boxes, but then he grabbed the cash box, jumped back in the car and it sped away, investigators said.
That's when Iravia Cotton jumped into action.
Cotton said, "I started hitting the boy in the passenger seat, so I think he learned his lesson a little bit and then they dragged my friend Rachel across the street, driving off real fast."
Rachel Johnson was holding on to the back bumper trying to stop the men from driving away.
She suffered a few scratches and bumps when she fell down.
"I hope your face hurts from where Iravia punched you jerk. Bam," said Johnson in a message to the thieves. "I hope your face hurts and I hope it leaves a scar. Who steals money from Girl Scouts, I mean, really?"
Despite the Girl Scouts efforts to fight back, the crooks managed to drive away with the cash box containing about $200.
Each Girl Scout troop is responsible for the cookies and any boxes that are sold, so they were going to be responsible for replacing the $200.
The girls have received an outpouring of support. Radio personalities Dean and Rog, along with their listeners, donated more than $200 to the troop.
They also received a donation from the Moody Rambin Interests, which owns the shopping center next door to the Walmart.
"We can't take away from the emotional trauma, but we can make up for the financial loss very easily, and we want to do that," Lance Gilliam said.
"The response has been so overwhelming. It has exceeded the need in this situation and the amount of money that was stolen from the girls," said Mary Vitek, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Girl Council.
Other troops have been warned to be careful.
"We really need to be on top of watching everybody," said Anne Bishop, a mom with troop #17383 in Katy. The Brownies were selling cookies down the street from where the robbery happened. Troop leaders put a plan in place in case the robbers come back.
"The moms have been in charge of the money, making sure it gets in our cash box, which is under our table or always with a mother at all times," she said.
"The Girl Scout Cookie Program is our most visible time of the year, but nothing is more important than the well-being of our girls and volunteers," said Mona Tolbert of the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council. "We have used this regrettable opportunity to remind our parents and volunteers of safety measures currently in place to help protect the girls and themselves, including:
- Having two adults at all cookie booths at all times.
- Keeping money out of sight, in a secure place like a cash box.
- Being vigilant and aware of your surroundings. If at any time you feel you or your group is not safe, remove yourself from the situation."
Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call Fort Bend County deputies at 281-341-4704. Anyone who would like to help the troop can call 713-292-0300.