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Crime Report: Scammers fleece 2 La Cañada victims using gift card tricks

The Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Support Group recently received a $12,000 donation from the Ca
Scams, auto break-ins and burglaries were reported this week to the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.
(File Photo / La Cañada Valley Sun)

June 19

Theft by false pretenses: 1200 block of Inverness Drive, La Cañada. A woman reported receiving both an email and a follow-up phone call telling her she had two outstanding warrants and that she had to pay a fee to get them dismissed. The caller gave the victim a dollar amount (redacted from the crime report) and when she said she didn’t have immediate access to that much cash, he told her to purchase rechargeable gift cards and to call him back to provide him with their pin numbers. She complied with the demand, but was then told she’d need to give them more funds because they’d discovered another issue with her “case.” At that point the woman realized she was being scammed and reported it to the sheriff’s station.

June 20

Burglary from vehicle: 3000 block of Evelyn Street, La Crescenta. A man reported that shortly before 2 p.m. someone broke the front passenger window of his 2007 Toyota Camry, which he’d left parked in his driveway just minutes earlier, and ransacked the center console. Surveillance videos provided by two of his neighbors show a gray, late model Nissan Maxima driving on the street at about 1:52 p.m. that day, toward the victim’s home.

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Shoplifting: 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta. A grocery store manager reported that a couple walked into the business and loaded up a cart with items. The man (white, 6 feet 1, 240 pounds with brown hair) left the store first, shortly after 9 p.m., and opened the hatch of a Toyota Prius in the parking lot. Then his accomplice, a white woman with blond hair, 5 feet 2 and about 185 pounds, pushed the cart past checkout stands and out the door without paying for the goods.

June 21

Petty theft: 400 block of Somerset Place, La Cañada. A woman who said she’d left her 2016 Jaguar XJ parked unlocked in her driveway overnight discovered the next morning someone had stolen its registration from inside.

Vehicle tampering: 800 and 900 blocks of Monarch Drive, La Cañada. Two households on the same block discovered someone had ransacked the glove compartments of a total of four cars — an Infiniti Q50, a Mercedes ML350, a BMW X3 and a Mercedes GLK350 — that had been left parked in their driveways unlocked overnight. In one of the incidents, the victim was notified by his Ring surveillance system at 3:25 a.m. of a movement in his driveway. When he reviewed the footage at 10:30 a.m. he saw a Latino, about 5 feet 9 and 200 pounds, park what appeared to be a Jeep Cherokee across the street from the victim’s home before tampering with the cars in the driveway. No losses were reported.

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Burglary: 5600 block of Bramblewood Road. A man who returned to his home at 5:15 p.m. discovered it had been ransacked in several areas and a rear sliding glass door had been shattered. He reported a portable security safe, plastic containers holding U.S. coins, a Longines men’s wristwatch, two U.S. passports, two California vehicle titles and some petty cash had been stolen during the break-in, which occurred sometime after 6:40 a.m.

June 22

Burglary: 3900 block of Hampstead Road, La Cañada. A man reported that he was awakened at around 10 p.m. June 21 by the sound of glass cracking. He went downstairs to investigate and discovered a glass side door had been shattered. At that moment he thought maybe the door was faulty and had shattered on its own. But the next morning he reviewed surveillance footage that showed two males walking onto his property and into his backyard. They went to the corner of the home where the glass door is located, then ran out of view. A deputy who took the report found a hole in the lower corner of the glass that he said is consistent with someone using a window punch to break glass. No items were reported stolen.

Theft by false pretenses: 1800 block of Earlmont Avenue, La Cañada. A man reported he fell victim to a fraud operation while trying to straighten out a travel reservation. The man said he’d intended to book a hotel reservation in Las Vegas when he visited Expedia.com online but discovered he’d mistakenly reserved a room in Italy instead. He googled “Expedia phone number” and then dialed the first number that appeared in the search results. A man who answered the phone told him he could help him, but that the would-be traveler first had to go to his bank, withdraw (a redacted amount of) cash and use it to buy a Google Play Store gift card. He complied, and provided the “agent” with its serial number. The agent claimed it didn’t “process” and instructed the man to return to his bank, withdraw more funds and buy more of the same cards. This time he bought three of the gift cards, spreading out the funds equally between them. He called and gave the agent the serial numbers to those three cards. Those, too, wouldn’t “process,” according to the scammer, and the victim was told to return to the bank a third time to repeat the same steps. So, the victim went to his bank again, but this time a bank manager approached to comment on his repeated withdrawals that day. He told her the reason behind his visits and she immediately advised him he had been the victim of a scam.

Compiled from reports on file at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.

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