Elderly woman robbed of purse, dog


Eighty-year-old Helen Bignone has a large blood blister on her right hand that illustrates just how hard she fought to keep two robbers from taking her precious yorkie named "Deuce." It was a battle she lost.

"It seems to me they had better things to do on a Saturday afternoon than to rob an old lady," Bignone said.

Saturday at 2 p.m., Bignone was doing what she often does -- walking with her red cart and six-year-old Deuce near her Alameda home. She passed a blue Honda at one point, and then the car pulled ahead and stopped and two young men got out and started to ask for directions.

"They told me to give them my purse and give my dog and I didn't do it, and the next second he said, 'I have a gun,'" she said. "He grabbed the dog and grabbed the purse and wrenched it away from me. I couldn't hang on."

"It's bad enough you robbed a helpless, innocent, older, elderly woman, you take her purse have and then you have to take her dog on top of that?" said the victim's granddaughter, Stephanie Bignone. "I mean that's all she has, it's like her family. That's her baby to her."

"This touches a chord for anyone who has a relative that walks a dog," Alameda Police Lt. Sean Welch said. "It's a brazen crime and we're going to work very hard to see if we can bring these people to justice."

One thing that might work in Deuce's favor is that he's got a microchip with his identification implanted under his skin.

"If they'll just drop him off at the pound or a veterinary or anywhere, I'd just be happy if they did that," Bignone said.

Even if Deuce doesn't come home, Bignone says she is not going to let what happened rob her of her independence. Her friends and family have all chipped in and are offering a reward for Deuce's safe return.

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