Gulfport Police arrested David Ryals, a 28-year-old white male, early Monday afternoon following a string of crimes targeting elderly women. Police charged him with two counts of exploiting the elderly and two counts of residential burglary and say Ryals targeted elderly, single women, making bogus offers to perform handyman services. Police have identified four victims so far, ranging in age from 67 to 85 years of age.
Once arrested, Ryals also faced charges of failure to appear for driving with a suspended or revoked license. Ryals is no stranger to the Pinellas County jail, having spent time there in October 2013 for failing to pay a $360 fine in Charlotte County. He returned to the 49th Street jail in December, this time on charges of dealing in stolen property and grand theft
Gulfport investigators linked Ryals most recent adventures, which they say include at least two burglaries, police report, alleging he has stolen money from at least five people. Reports suggest that on January 19, Ryals convinced a 68-year-old woman to give him a down payment on a concrete repair job. He told the woman he would do the job while she was out of town, but instead, he allegedly broke into her house and stole jewelry and other valuables.
On February 9 police took a report from an 85-year-old woman who says Ryals agreed to do a pressure-cleaning job.
"He talked the woman into giving him cash to put gas in the pressure washer, but he never returned," Gulfport Detective Sergeant Tom Woodman said in a press release Tuesday morning.
At the time of Ryals arrest, police found several pieces of jewelry in his pockets. Investigators are still trying to identify owners.
Police believe Ryals may have conned others who have not reported the crime and ask anyone with additional information or who believes they may also be a victim of Ryals' alleged schemes to call Gulfport Detective Hanh Pham at (727) 893-1654.