Lawn care man steals $23k from 85-year-old woman

Posted at 6:41 PM, Dec 18, 2015

A Pasco County woman shares her anger and hurt after a man she trusted stole thousands of dollars in jewelry from her.

Now, there’s concern there could be more victims out there.

"I trusted him. I didn't think for a second about him coming into the house,” said 85-year-old Bess Schell, who considered the suspect a friend. "He was a good worker and what he did, he did well."

Joseph Stronger has been arrested for stealing jewelry from Schell and selling it for cash.

“When I would go outside and check what had been done on the shrubbery, he would hold my hand," she said.

He worked at her home for the past two years and did all types of jobs; everything from cleaning grout and carpets to trimming the shrubs. He also went to her church.

"Anything you wanted done, Joe could do. He was just perfect, I thought," she said.

Deputies say Stongner stole $23,000 in fine jewelry from Schell and sold it to pawn shops for cash.

"It makes me sick. It makes me sick in my stomach," Schell said.

Deputies arrested Stongner and helped Schell get her jewelry back. Now, she's warning others who pay for his services to check their houses and to not be trusting like she was.

"I cannot let him go on and steal from other people,” she said.

Schell says Stongner had 40 customers in this area alone. They're hoping their story and lesson learned will help and protect others from going through what they did.