Alleged antique thief jailed

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 16, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

A 64-year-old Selma woman was arrested Monday and charged with armed robbery after authorities stopped her for driving off without paying for more than $40 worth of gas.

Paula Tinsley was booked and jailed on $10,000 bond for the June 12 armed heist of Southern Antiques & Collectibles at 710 Dallas Ave. She was also charged with failure to pay for gas after Tinsley filled up her Chevrolet Blazer at the Amoco station on Medical Center Parkway and drove away.

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Police said an off-duty Alabama State Trooper observed her and gave chase in their personal vehicle. The trooper called for assistance and Dallas County sheriff’s deputies intercepted Tinsley at the intersection of U.S. Highway 80 and Alabama Highway 41.

Authorities said Tinsley, a retired postal worker, had a purse with her that only contained a nickel-plated .38 revolver and a pair of latex gloves. The pistol was loaded with hollow point ammunition. A positive identification from employees at Southern Antiques, after police realized she fit the description, led to Tinsley being charged with the June robbery that netted less than $200.

Mary Caine, owner of the Dallas Avenue shop, said she was relieved the gunman had been caught.

“She came in and acted like she was shopping,” said Caine. “We’re just glad she didn’t hurt somebody. She didn’t hurt anyone here but you never know what she would have done the next time.”

Tinsley, wearing a khaki cap, reportedly entered the shop during the daylight and when the opportunity presented itself produced the pistol from her purse. Caine said she told employee Ronda Hobson to hand over their cash, and took their telephones so they couldn’t call police.

According to police reports she took the phones, a pair of earrings and $187 in cash.