A stolen lap top computer led a Crescenta Valley Sheriff's detective to a La Cañada residence last Thursday morning that housed numerous identity theft tools including a credit card making machine. The man at the house, who was arrested and charged with 15 felony counts, may have been in the identity theft business for years, according to a CV Sheriff's detective.
The event began to unfold at 7:40 a.m. when the detective went to a home in the 4500 block of Rockland Place in La Cañada near the Big Lots store.
According to the detective, he was led to the home after a purchase was made online using an identity stolen from a La Cañada woman who had her lap top computer taken from her vehicle. The lap top contained personal and financial information. The detective found that someone used that information to purchase an engagement ring online and had the ring mailed to the home on Rockland.
According to the detective, he knocked on the door of the residence on Rockland and Ronald Young, 46, answered. The detective recognized him from another burglary and fictitious check case he had investigated in the past. He asked Young if anyone else was at the home and Young told him that Donald Reade, 25, from Reseda was staying there.
Reade was found to have two illegal drug related warrants out for his arrest that totaled over $80,000. The detective arrested Reade, and continued looking around the home. He found the stolen lap top computer as well as other items used in identity theft crimes. He also discovered a black handbag and several wallets sitting near a trash can in the front of the house. The credit cards and information in the wallets did not match Young or Reade.
"Nothing belonged to him [Young]," said the detective.
During the investigation, Young told the detective that he had two other guests living in a motor home that was parked in his driveway. The detective attempted to make contact with the occupants of the motor home, with no response. Back-up law enforcement arrived and also attempted to ask the occupants to vacate, but there was still no response. Sheriff deputies cordoned off the parking lot at Big Lots, preventing anyone from entering or exiting the area. A Sheriff's department helicopter circled the area, broadcasting a continuous announcement advising the individuals in the motor home to exit.
Deputies requested a search warrant for the motor home. A standoff continued for about two hours, and ended when John Pineda, 29, and a woman exited the motor home and were placed into custody.
Pineda was found to have a burglary warrant out in the amount of $250,000.
The woman at first gave the detective a false name, and was arrested as she was allegedly under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.
"I ran the name she first gave me but it came out clean [no warrants]," the detective said. After transporting her to the CV sheriff's station, he discovered she had given him false identification. Her true name is Gina Figueroa, 27. She had two warrants, one for driving under the influence and the other for giving false information to a law enforcement officer. Her warrants totaled $70,000.
Young has been charged with 15 felony counts, and is being held on $500,000 bail, with no court date set as of press time. Reade is being held on $15,035 bail, with no court date set. Pineda is being held on $250,000 bail, and his next court date is scheduled for June 27 at the West Covina Superior Court.
No information on Figueroa's location was available.