Woman Tried to Return a Lost Credit Card, Detroit Police Accused Her of Stealing It

Mistaken identity leads to major consequences.

A Detroit mother who spotted a lost credit card and tried to return it to its rightful owner found herself in a legal nightmare—one that led to her arrest and the loss of her job. Sandra Wilson had stopped into her neighborhood gas station, where she regularly bought coffee and cigarettes, WXYZ reported. Surveillance video shows that while she was waiting in line, a woman in front of her put her credit card on the counter, then left the store without it. When Wilson approached the register and found the card, she ran outside and asked a woman who had just left the store if the card was hers. The woman said yes. That's where Wilson's trouble began. Read on to find out what happened.

1
Mistaken Identity, Major Consequences

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Wilson grabbed the credit card and brought it to the woman, who was sitting in her car. As it turns out, it wasn't the woman's card after all, and she used it to buy hundreds of dollars of alcohol later that night. The next week, friends and family started calling Wilson, asking why she was wanted by the police.

2
"I Just Went to the Store!"

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Wilson's photo and description had been posted on social media—on the Twitter account for the Detroit Police Department's 7th Precinct and the Crime News in the D Instagram page. Both said she was wanted for illegally using someone else's credit card. "I was like, I just went to the store!" Wilson told WXYZ. "I just went to the store!" Determined to clear her name, she went to the 7th Precinct, where her conversation with detectives was recorded.

3
Interrogation Leads to Trouble

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Soon after sitting down, Wilson was told by a detective she was "the focus of the investigation" and was told she would be read her Miranda rights. "I need an attorney," Wilson said on camera, adding: "Because you all are about to hand me up on something I did not do, did not do. (I) don't steal." She repeated her request for a lawyer twice, WXYZ reported. The detective asked Sandra to read her Miranda rights aloud, then sign her name. But the interrogation didn't end there. 

4
"Ruined My Life"

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Wilson was interrogated for another 30 minutes, and a second officer joined the first. As the questioning continued, Wilson began to cry. "I don't know what you all want me to tell y'all!" she said. "I just walked in the gas station and you all took a picture of me and ruined my life." Fifteen minutes after Sandra first asked for a lawyer, officers believe they caught her in a slip-up. "Who do you give that card to?" one officer asked Wilson. "To the man behind the counter," she replied. Officers knew that wasn't the case and arrested Wilson, believing she was lying and hiding her involvement in a scheme.

5
Slapped With Two Felony Charges

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"Because she says that she gives the card to the clerk—just guessing at what she would do in that situation—they take that as evidence that somehow she's in cahoots with the woman who used the card illegally," said Wilson's attorney, Brandon McNeal. Wilson spent the next three days in jail and was charged with two felonies, which carried up to four years in prison. The ordeal cost her her job as a security guard, she said.

6
"That's Not Fair"

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In October, the case went to a jury trial, where a judge intervened. "This is unbelievable to me," said a clearly exasperated Judge Paul Cusick of Wayne County Third Circuit Court. "No trier of fact—even in the light most favorable to the prosecution—could ever think that Ms. Wilson is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." He threw out the case. "Absurd and ridiculous and wrong," he said. "And this was not a thorough investigation." Although Wilson was acquitted, she doesn't believe that justice was done. She's still unemployed, and searching her name online brings up those pictures from social media that say she's a wanted criminal. "They embarrassed me. Humiliated me. I have 49 applications and I can't get a job," she told WXYZ. "That's not fair."

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more
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