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Stevenson Ranch: Identity thieves strike SCV again

Sheriff’s deputies suspect two people worked together to distract local woman and steal her identity

Posted: March 18, 2013 9:23 p.m.
Updated: March 18, 2013 9:23 p.m.

Rachel Stevenson displays a note in her Saugus home listing the amounts charged against accounts belonging to her and her mother shortly after her wallet was stolen while shopping in Stevenson Ranch. (Jonathan Pobre/The Signal)

 

A team of at least two thieves looted a Saugus woman’s purse, lifted her credit cards and, within 20 minutes, racked up a $4,300 tab at a local computer store after pulling a scam in a Stevenson Ranch clothing store.

Registered nurse Rachel Stevenson said just when she felt it was safe to place her purse in a shopping cart, an apparent new identity theft ring emerged and robbed her of more than $400 in birthday gift cards and cash.

“I saw the story about the blond scammer and I’ve been following it,” she said in an interview. “I thought since the lady was caught, everything was fine.”

Stevenson was referring to recent Signal stories about two woman arrested by local sheriff’s deputies for allegedly working in concert at grocery stores, stealing women’s wallets from their purses in shopping carts and using their credit cards and IDs to purchase goods.

The two women arrested in that case — alleged ringleader Valerie Lynne Ray, 54, of Los Angeles, and the blond woman who allegedly masqueraded as the credit card holders, Pilar Raine Abalos, 42, of Poway — are expected to appear in court separately this month.

Well-scripted scam

One evening last week, Stevenson became the victim of a similar “well-scripted” scam run by two people working in concert at a discount clothing store on The Old Road in Stevenson Ranch.

“I had just gotten off work, so I was still in my scrubs,” Stevenson said, referring to her nurses’ attire.

A woman approached her seeking fashion advice, and Stevenson said she felt a “higher-level need” to be polite as a representative of the health care industry.

“This woman was asking me which shirt matched the pants,” Stevenson said, adding that she had her hand on the shopping cart that contained her purse on its lower basket.

Stevenson said she even looked around when confronted by the woman, seeing no one suspicious around.

But besides the woman who distracted her, someone else had been lying in wait, she said.

“Somebody had been under a clothing rack of long men’s sports jerseys,” she said. “I don’t know how long they had been watching me in order for me to get to that perfect place.”

That individual looted her purse and removed her credit cards, birthday gift cards and identification, she said.

When she turned away from the inquiring woman, she said, the same woman called out to her as she was leaving, holding up more clothes.

“I turned away and she calls out, ‘Hey, what about this shirt?’” she said. “This whole thing was so well-scripted.”

Stevenson noticed the theft while still at the store.

By the time she arrived home and began canceling credit cards, the thieves had purchased three items costing some $4,300 at a Santa Clarita Valley computer store.

Out of pocket

Today Stevenson is out for the theft of gift cards and cash.

“This all happened a few hours before my birthday,” she said. “I had gift cards and $150 in cash.”

She contacted local deputies, who she said were very helpful.

“It never occurred to me that someone could be lurking underneath the clothes,” she said. “This must be a professional ring of thieves, and I feel stupid and violated that it happened to me but I would really like to prevent this from happening to other people.

“I thought I was being safe and vigilant.”

jholt@signalscv.com

661-287-5527

On Twitter

@jamesarthurholt

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