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Fullerton couple arrested in Bay Area on suspicion of sleight-of-hand jewelry thefts

A map of the San Francisco Bay Area showing San Ramon
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A man and a woman from Fullerton are suspected of using sleight-of-hand techniques and fake jewelry to steal valuables from elderly victims in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Alex Ghiocel, 24, and Elena Gunici, 21, were arrested Monday by San Ramon police and booked on suspicion of felony grand theft, theft from an elder or dependent adult and conspiracy to commit a crime.

They were pulled over after an automated license plate reader system alerted officers that their vehicle had reportedly been used during a series of thefts, the San Ramon Police Department said in a release. Their 2-year-old child was in the car and was released to a family member.

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Police had entered the vehicle’s license plate into their system after a “quick-change” theft Sunday in which a female suspect called a 74-year-old woman to the car, put costume jewelry on her, then took a valuable piece of jewelry and left the costume pieces behind after the 74-year-old refused the items.

It was the tenth such incident reported to the department since November. Police are investigating the couple’s connection to the previous cases.

“In every case, a female suspect approached an elderly victim (between 60 and 86 years old) who was outside and often alone,” the department said in the release. “The suspects used confusion and sleight-of-hand techniques to remove the victim’s jewelry before fleeing in a waiting vehicle.”

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