Robber no match for elderly casino couple

MILTON, Wash. -- An elderly Milton couple faced off with a home invasion robber last Friday after they returned home from a lucrative trip to the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma.

It turns out the robber messed with the wrong people. They want to know if they were followed home after walking out with $500 cash.

Jim and Betty Lilja had just returned home Friday night when a slender man in his 20s wearing a hoodie and dark glasses busted into their house.

"And then he jumped up, pushed me in and had his hand in his pocket and he said, 'Okay, I've got a gun and I'm going to shoot you,'" Jim said.

Jim is 85. Betty, his bride of 66 years, is 80-years old. They found themselves face to face with a would-be robber.

"I said 'I'm 85 years old, if you want to shoot, go ahead and shoot,' " Jim said.

"He says, 'I want your money and I want it all.' I looked at him and said 'what money?' " Betty said.

The couple had just returned home from their favorite pastime: gambling at the Emerald Queen Casino not too far from their Milton home. Betty had just won a slot jackpot.

"All of a sudden it hit and I got the bonus and it hit and give me a couple of hundred bucks," she said.

All totaled she walked out of there with $500 cash. Milton police are investigating to see if they were tailed from the casino.

"That certainly lends credibility that he may have just followed them right home from there and it's so close," said Milton police chief Mark Langford.

Or police say they could have been targeted away from the casino just because of their age. Either way, the robber misjudged his elderly targets. Betty,

"Maybe between the two of us we could have taken him down. I don't know. But he ain't going to get my money. I know that," Betty said.

It turns out they didn't need to use force. They just used their smarts. When the suspect left them alone in the living room to go search the bedroom, they scrambled outside and Jim got creative.

"I reached into my pocket and I had my car keys. I said, 'I'll just push that car signal and see what happens. Boop, boop, boop," Jim said.

Betty said the car alarm was enough to spook the robber into leaving.

"All of a sudden when he heard that alarm he went out of here like a bat out of you know what," she said.

Neighbors said the would-be robber took off in a waiting Lexus having never found the cash. Betty said it was in her purse on the kitchen table.

Emerald Queen security officials said they have plenty of cameras to keep on eye on folks who appear to be watching the big jackpot winners. They'll check to see if anyone suspicious was watching Betty.

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