County police are looking for a thief who barged into an Ellicott City retirement community Sunday and robbed a 73-year-old woman in a wheelchair, making off with approximately $1.

Police said the thief pushed the elderly woman into her bathroom, closed the door and ran out of the apartment with her purse. The theft occurred at about 2:15 p.m. in the Waterford Apartment building, in the Heartlands development on North Ridge Road.

"For $1, it's a pretty lowly crime, especially considering that it's an elderly person with a handicap," said Sgt. Gary L. Gardner, a county police spokesman. "It makes you wonder why someone would bother."

The victim, who was not hurt in the incident, reported that anunidentified man knocked at the door of her first-floor apartment and said he was looking for someone. He then walked around her into theapartment.

The police report said the man then covered her eyes with his hands and pushed her wheelchair into the bathroom before checking the apartment for valuables. The apartment was not disturbed andit appears he only took the purse, police said.

The man, described as a thin, black male in his 20s, ran from the apartment building and may have left the parking lot in a small, red pickup truck, policesaid.

"It's really terrible when you see an elderly person preyedupon, especially when you consider that this guy did this for $1," Gardner said. "One of the things elderly people cherish most is their security, and this man has violated that."

Waterford Apartments ishome to approximately 120 elderly people and is part of the Heartlands retirement community, where approximately 180 people live.

"People were very upset and shocked on Sunday," said David Schmidt, director of the Waterford building. "It's not the kind of thing they expect to have happen in their homes."

Schmidt said Waterford has a security force in the building and residents have emergency pull-cords in their rooms to summon help if they are in trouble. But the victim in Sunday's incident did not have a chance to get to the pull-cord, hesaid.

Schmidt said residents of the community are encouraged to keep their doors locked and to notify security if they see people acting suspiciously in Heartlands buildings.

"Certainly, we're assessing our security and what we could do to prevent something like this,"Schmidt said. "But frankly, we're pretty satisfied with our security. This is only the second incident we've had here in five years."

The other incident involved a Heartlands resident who was threatened while walking on the property about four years ago.

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