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Deputies arrest one in Santa Clarita wallet thefts

Posted: February 13, 2013 1:34 p.m.
Updated: February 13, 2013 1:34 p.m.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's deputies are seeking public assistance in identifying the woman pictured above, suspected in a series of wallet thefts. Investigators say they have arrested the alleged ringleader in the scam, but the "blond scammer," who allegedly stole the wallets and masqueraded as the victims, is still at large.

Local sheriff’s deputies have arrested the alleged accomplice of the blond scammer who stalks other women at grocery stores, steals their wallets and uses their IDs to obtain cash or expensive jewelry, sheriff’s deputies said Wednesday.

Valerie Lynne Ray, 54, of Los Angeles, the alleged ringleader of the scam, was arrested Feb. 5 and booked at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, Deputy Josh Dubin said Wednesday.

Ray was charged with grand theft in connection with thefts that occurred in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“She is the person who instructs this (wanted) woman on what to do,” he said.

Local sheriff’s deputies issued a blurry photo of the wallet-lifting blond woman in late January hoping someone would recognize her. At the time, they warned the public that she steals from others with a similar build and features so she can impersonate the victims.

On Wednesday they issued more photos of the same woman, reproduced from footage captured by a bank surveillance camera.

“With the clarity of these new photos, we’re hoping to work in partnership with the community and the media to identify this blond white woman,” Dubin said.

In January, local deputies responded to three separate reports of women whose wallets were stolen, Dubin said.
All three female victims stated they had their wallets removed from their purses while shopping at various grocery stores in the Santa Clarita Valley, he said.

Following the theft of the wallets, the suspect used the victims’ credit cards to obtain cash advances at various banks and to purchase — or attempt to purchase — expensive jewelry.

Detectives said at the time that they believe the woman was working with an accomplice. They now believe they have that accomplice in custody.

“Valerie Ray is one of the persons suspected in orchestrating the theft ring,” Dubin said in a news release issued Wednesday.

“Since then, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office has filed three counts of identity theft and three counts of burglary on suspect Ray for her alleged involvement in the Santa Clarita Valley incidents.”

Ray, of Hillcrest Street in Los Angeles, was described at the time of her arrest as a 5-foot-5, 190-pound redheaded black woman who declared her occupation when booked as “in home service” worker.

Pasadena Municipal Court records show Ray was arrested Jan. 24 by Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies a week after local deputies went public with their first photo of the blond scammer. She posted bond and was released.

Local investigators discovered the blond scammer drove a silver-colored Cadillac SUV with paper license plates, and that she entered various locations posing as the women whose wallets she had stolen, using their driver’s licenses and credit cards to obtain cash and jewelry.

They learned also that the local thefts were part of a larger network of similar cases occurring in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Although they suspect she might live outside the Santa Clarita Valley, they hope recent bank images of the blond scammer will lead to an arrest.

“They show a clear view of the unidentified white female suspect who reportedly used the victim’s credit card(s) to obtain cash advances,” Dubin said.

Ray is being held at Century Regional Detention Facility on $205,000 bail.

Anyone recognizing the wanted woman is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477) or report online at
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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