ANDERSON, Ind. – Betty Bingham, 82, had one thing on her mind when she found herself in the middle of a brazen crime, a carjacking in broad daylight.
“I wasn’t thinking too much about anything except the car,” Bingham said.
Anderson police said it happened about 5:30 p.m. Monday at a gas station at 19th and Meridian.
Bingham said she was there to fill up her car, but as she tried to get back into her vehicle, a man approached her.
“This guy came up behind me and said ‘oh you left the door open’ and I said ‘oh thanks’ and I got out to shut it,” Bingham said. “I had my keys in my hand and he grabbed my keys, I said ‘give me my keys’ and he says ‘no I need this car,’ and I said ‘so do I,’ and he says ‘but this is an emergency.'”
She was determined to not let go of it so easily, though.
“I tried hard to get him to not take it. But it didn’t do me any good. He pushed me a couple times and then one time he said he had a gun and he, I grabbed a hold of the door but he took off so that I couldn’t hold onto it,” she said.
Police said they were able to capture surveillance images though and share the information with surrounding agencies. About 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Fishers police spotted the car on I-69 and made a traffic stop.
According to court documents, the driver was identified as Jason Fruggiero, 37. He told police he was “given the car by a lady in Anderson and he had permission to be driving the car.” He and his girlfriend, who was a passenger, were brought to Anderson for questioning.
“Subsequently in questioning him he admitted to being the one who robbed the victim of her car,” Anderson Police Major Joel Sandefur said.
Court documents state “Jason Fruggiero implicated himself in going up to the elderly lady and taking her car. He claimed the lady handed the keys to him and he grabbed them and took off in the car. He adamantly denied telling her he had a gun or pushing her in any way even though she gave a statement to such.” Police said it turned out he did not have a gun.
Fruggiero is now facing a felony robbery charge, while Bingham is able to reflect on just how frightening the encounter truly was.
“Kind of scary you know,” she said.
“She has a lot of tenacity, something we wouldn’t recommend, but this is someone who was not going to be taken was not going to become a victim very lightly, and it was a lot of grit that was shown by this woman,” Sandefur said.
Police said if you find yourself in a carjacking situation and no one else is in the vehicle, they advise to give up the car.
“It’s a constant reminder that we always need to be mindful of our surroundings. That someone may be watching us to take advantage of us,” Sandefur said. “Always be vigilant of your surroundings and always be mindful that something always could happen at any time, at any place.”
“Just take it easy, make sure there’s nobody around,” Bingham said.
Now, she’s more vigilant, too.