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Thelma Lou robbed in Mayberry; cops get their man

Wallet taken from Barney's TV girlfriend, 83, in the N.C. town that inspired the show.

By Mark Washburn
TV/Radio Writer

MOUNT AIRY Dating Barney Fife doesn't insulate you from crime. Nor does living in the town that inspired the fictional hamlet of Mayberry.

Betty Lynn, who played the bumbling deputy's sweetheart on "The Andy Griffith Show" in the 1960s, was sitting outside a Lowes Foods store after shopping and getting money out to pay for a cab home Sunday when a man snatched her wallet with about $130 in it and ran off.

Lynn is 83 but still a force to be reckoned with.

"I jumped up and started yelling, 'Thief! Thief!' and ran after him," she said Thursday.

He disappeared. She went into the supermarket and employees called police. Within minutes, Officer R.T. Bledsoe nabbed a man who had jumped into the Ararat River to escape.

"A squad car came and a policeman who knew who I was put his arm around me and handed me back my wallet. I never thought I'd see it again," said Lynn, a local celebrity in the Surry County city of 10,000.

Then, in a Mayberry moment appropriate for Andy Griffith's hometown, he gave Lynn a ride home. And once there, he carried all her groceries upstairs. So far, $43 has been recovered. Talk around town is that the remaining loot may be sailing down the Ararat.

Shirley Walter Guynn, 45, of nearby Cana, Va., was being held Thursday in Surry County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bond on charges of robbery.

Lynn moved to Mount Airy three years ago. She had fallen in love with it during appearances at the annual "Mayberry Days" festivals and was eager to leave Los Angeles, where she had recently been burglarized for the second time. She had also been robbed in L.A. twice, once on Wilshire Boulevard.

"I don't want to hurt Mount Airy's image," Lynn said. "LAPD never caught any of those guys."

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