In a brazen and bizarre robbery, police say two thieves forced an 83-year-old man to write them a $10,000 check then stayed at his home with him and forced him to tell the bank teller that everything was okay.
M.T. Clinton has great-grandchildren and had just returned home after heart surgery when the thieves came knocking on his door along Terrace Drive.
Sadly, one of the men knocking at the door was very familiar to the victim.
"I saw Mark, and I got the key and unlocked the door," Clinton said.
He is talking about Mark Crawford, who is Clinton's neighbor. These days, Clinton - a retired realtor - also leases rental property in west Nashville and in the past, he says, Crawford has done odd jobs for him.
Clinton said Crawford showed up at his home Monday, wanting an apartment for a woman and a man who had come with him.
When they were told there were no available rentals, Clinton said the man became aggressive.
"The guy stepped in and grabbed a hold of me, said, 'Come here. I wanna talk to you,' and put me in that chair," Clinton said.
Once in the chair, the man allegedly demanded money.
"He leaned over and said, 'You gonna write me a check for $30,000,'" Clinton said.
Clinton told them he didn't have $30,000, but the accused thief then started going through the house, ripping out phone lines and searching for cash. He found the man's checkbook, showing a balance of $10,000.
"He said, 'You gonna write it for $10,000 if you know what's good for you,'" Clinton said.
Clinton began slowly scribbling out the check, making it look as poorly done as he could, but in the end, Crawford took the check and went to the Regions Bank branch near 51st Avenue North and Charlotte Pike.
The man and woman stayed behind, holding their victim hostage, when a few moments later a teller called to verify and Clinton was forced to lie.
"The teller called and wanted to know if I had written a check," Clinton said. "I said, 'Yeah.' She said, 'For $10,000?' I said, 'Yeah.'"
When Crawford then got the money, and the thieves left Clinton's home, the victim got up, locked his door, retrieved his Smith & Wesson gun and called police.
Crawford was arrested a short time after the theft and told police he was kidnapped and forced him to do what he did.
Police later found Crawford walking barefoot in the neighborhood and arrested him. He told police the other suspects forced him to do what he did, took the cashed money and locked him in the truck of a car.
Crawford remains in police custody, facing robbery charges. It's unclear if the elderly man's money has been returned.
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