Authorities arrest East Texas 'Tamale Bandit'

GRAPELAND, TX (KTRE) - A woman who police say scammed victims in seven East Texas counties by selling tamales was arrested in Duval County at 8:45 a.m. Monday.

According to Grapeland Police Officer Robert Moffett, Alicia Sanchez Garza, 44, sold tamales door-to-door and used different methods to steal cash and debit cards from her victims.

Garza is suspected to have used her act in Angelina, Nacogdoches, Smith, Anderson, Cherokee, Houston and Polk Counties, Moffett said.

Moffett said Garza was caught on a surveillance video using a Grapeland woman's debit card in Palestine.

Moffett said Garza walked into homes and businesses and used three different methods to rob her victims, all by soliciting tamales:

* Walk into a home or business and take the money and tell the victim she was going to get change and come back. Then she would get in her car and leave with the money.

* Walk into a beauty salon and perform a dance. While everyone is distracted, her accomplice would steal cash and debit cards.

* Go to emergency rooms and bring in tamales and just loot purses and be gone in a matter of seconds.

Garza is charged with theft and forgery of a financial instrument.

"This lady has been flying so low underneath the radar," Moffett said. "It's unbelievable what she's been doing for so long."

Garza's daughter, whose name is not yet known, was also arrested on Friday for the same scam.