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Homeless woman arrested for taking money out of wallet, told officer she was “blessed” with the money

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Candace Jean Falke, 41, was arrested yesterday afternoon after allegedly taking cash and multiple insurance cards that were in a wallet she found in a restroom at Publix.

A Gainesville Police Department officer spoke to the victim at about 11 a.m. yesterday at the Publix at 203 NW 13th Street. The victim said she accidentally left her wallet in a stall in the bathroom, and when she went back to look for it, she found her driver’s license and debit/credit cards on the floor in the bathroom, but the wallet, which contained $170 cash, a food stamp card, and insurance cards with her children’s personal identifying information, was gone.

The officer reviewed surveillance video and saw Falke entering and exiting the bathroom right after the victim; the officer was familiar with Falke after speaking to her earlier that morning at the store. The officer made contact with Falke in the parking garage just north of the store, and the victim’s wallet was reportedly found mixed in with Falke’s personal belongings. In a search incident to arrest, $150 in cash was reportedly found in Falke’s pocket.

Post Miranda, Falke reportedly told the officer she couldn’t say where she got the money but that she was “blessed” this morning. She reportedly told the officer she believed she had done a good deed by leaving the driver’s license and credit cards for the victim to find later. She reportedly denied any knowledge of the food stamp card.

A witness who had been with Falke before and after the theft reportedly said they went to Publix so Falke could use the bathroom. When Falke came out of Publix, she told the witness that they had been “blessed.” The witness said Falke purchased cigarettes and chicken from Publix.

Falke, whose address is listed as GRACE Marketplace, has been charged with petit theft and possession of personal identification cards for multiple people. Falke has a juvenile history as well as an out-of-county history from 2000 to 2018. Judge Kristine Van Vorst set bail at $5,000.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

  • This story is interesting. She is charged with theft even though she didn’t physically steal the wallet. I agree with the arrest. Possession of other IDs is certainly a no brainer crime. If the wallet had no I’d or credit cards; would keeping the cash still be a crime? Are you legally required to turn in straight cash lying on the floor? I hope someone can clear this up for me.

    • She stole the wallet, with its identification cards and cash. She didn’t steal the purse the wallet was in, and she didn’t steal any of the purse’s other contents, and that was her “good deed.”

      But, yes, Florida law (FS 705.102) stipulates you have to report even loose cash (“any lost or abandoned property”) to law enforcement. Law enforcement may then allow you to claim the property if they’re unable to find the owner and if nobody else claims it, but you still have to return it in the case anyone does claim it.

        • My bad. I was preoccupied when I responded. I read that something was left in the stall but that the wallet was stolen. I see now that she intentionally left a few items from the wallet behind as the “good deed,” but stole the wallet and other contents. Thanks for the clarification.

      • Maybe she was in a hurry. More often than not, by the time GPD responds to anything, I could have roasted a 20 lb turkey.

        • I can’t say what went through her head, but I’m guessing she thought the cash was fair game as her “blessing” (I did a little research, and a lot of people believe it’s legal to take cash as “finders keepers”), but had enough of a conscience to know it was even more wrong to take directly from the victim’s bank account. Taking anything that didn’t belong to her was wrong, of course, but I doubt she took the time to remove bank cards and a driver’s license to save time.

          • I think the obvious answer is that possessing other people’s IDs and credit cards is a crime unto itself. As a seasoned petty criminal, I’m sure she is aware of this.

      • If it’s Lost cash flying in the wind , than its finders keepers losers weepers…
        Law office the jungle..

    • I don’t know all the legal ins & outs. I do know I’ve been homeless & hungry and never asked anyone for food but was very grateful when they offered. I dang sure never stole! Nowadays as retired NP-C (received some grants & loans & worked my butt off, (saving my shekels) to put myself through University.
      Spouse & I agreed to get guys @ the local shelter. It’s worked out very well on both sides. I get help that actually listens to & follows instructions. They get fed meals & some to take home as well as a fair wage. As they learn more so I can go work on other projects, they get their pay raised.

      • I’ve been down the homeless-and-hungry road myself. Since taking the hard road to recovery instead of taking the other road (and praying a lot in the process), I’ve been able to help a lot of folks who were in my shoes. Some will never change, but it’s great feeling to help even one person get back on track. Thank you for giving back out of what God has given you.

  • I also completely agree with the charge of theft as well as possession of another person’s id

  • Can they prove it wasn’t her money? Just because she’s homeless doesn’t mean she doesn’t have money.
    This being the caring, loving community of Gainesville you would have thought just returning the funds, if they weren’t hers, would have been enough to warrant a proper way to address things found in public areas.
    Scrooge strikes again!

    • She knew she had found the money in the wallet. She knew it wasn’t hers. She should’ve turned the wallet in with EVERYTHING in it. Why is it so hard for people to do the right thing nowadays? Wow.

    • Yes, sounds like another welfare queen scamming the system, pumpin’ out more “churn” for the system to institutionalize…I say throw ’em BOTH in the clink!

    • Have you considered, Mr. “Adams,” that average rent alone in Gainesville is about eight times what she had in cash? Have you considered the ridiculous rates the city-operated GRU levies? Have you considered that she might have had a “credit card” that has a $200 limit after paying a refundable $200 deposit in order to establish credit responsibly? Have you considered that the bank account to which her debit card was linked might have been next to empty? Have you considered that she might have been a person with no real or virtual assets, working for minimum wage, saving as much as she could, still qualifying for EBT benefits while she gets ahead?

      Or did you make a rash judgment?

      • Maybe she should have thought about that before makin’ churn…I wonder what her husband thinks, why, my stars! He must just be BESIDE himself!🤔

    • What do you think that someone having a bank account or credit cards & a very small amount of cash ($170). Allows you to quickly access & disqualify her need for basic necessities? I am clearly confused, mostly concerned at the way people think!!!
      Would you rather her be homeless, penniless, or a drug addicted would that then fit what you deem suitable for someone to receive assistance? Personally I applaud someone that has the drive to work & be a decent member within our society. Don’t judge people, you don’t know her life story!!!

  • She’s a homeless bum that probably would have received a reward if she turned the wallet in…is she a witch too? That looks like Druid writing on that visible tattoo in her mugshot…
    The bail is good…she will be nice and warm with this cold weather…she gets no sympathy from me.

  • That’s the sparkling mini-Publix near UF in the high rental district. How perfectly appropriate a fly magnetee would enter a woke campuside grocery store — and steal a fellow pauper’s food stamp card! What are the odds of that happening?

  • I would certainly think that it would be ok because the store bathroom where she found the wallet I don’t think the CEO would have a wallet like that.I am confused about it as well the lady that called the police could have found it like the lady that was arrested the justice system here in Gainesville and the whole state of Florida is shady I have proof of t

  • I’ve been on both sides of this very issue . I personally can’t and won’t keep something that I know is not mine. Regardless of the circumstances, I have a very healthy Respect for Karma and a loud conscience. So I just wanted to say that . I know I am speaking for many others too. Bless Us All , Lord knows we need it .

  • My God, some of these comments are pathetic… I didn’t realize there were so many terrible people in this area.

    And at Christmas, no less.

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