Ventura County sheriff's deputies arrested four people on suspicion of passing stolen and forged checks worth an estimated $200,000 to $300,000, authorities said Friday.
Three members of the alleged ring were arrested Thursday and a teen-ager from Camarillo was arrested a few days earlier, Detective Bill Stovall said.
David Crowson, 22, of Thousand Oaks is suspected of stealing blank checks from his roommates, and then he and others allegedly would forge signatures on the checks to buy groceries, clothes and jewelry, Stovall said. The group also allegedly stole two cars and snatched purses.
The operation may have begun last May, with merchants from the San Fernando Valley to Camarillo being victimized, Stovall said. "It was a pretty substantial loss," he said.
The group struck at grocery stores because the food could be sold, Stovall said. "They said the merchants are stupid . . . they never check for I.D."
Three members of the alleged ring were arrested in early March in Laughlin, Nev., where they tried to pass a forged check for $1,200 at a casino, Stovall said.
The group returned to Thousand Oaks after they were released from jail in Nevada and were arrested again, Stovall said.
James Rood, 24, of Thousand Oaks; Patrick Michaels, 20, of Camarillo; and Crowson were arrested Thursday.
Stovall said deputies also arrested Scott Burton, 28, of Thousand Oaks for allegedly assisting Crowson in his attempt to escape from investigators. Stovall said Burton was not part of the ring.
Rood is being held in lieu of $105,000 bail. Bail was set at $10,000 for Crowson, $5,643 for Michaels and $13,000 for Burton. All suspects are being held at Ventura County Jail and are scheduled to be arraigned Monday.
Authorities would release no information on the juvenile suspect.