A Turlock woman previously arrested for breaking in to mailboxes around town found herself back in custody on Tuesday after a probation search turned up evidence of ongoing identity thefts.
Cynthia Gomez, 33, of Turlock was arrested for identity theft, possession of stolen property, theft and commission of a crime while on bail. Gomez had been previously arrested by the Turlock Police Department on Feb. 14 for attempted theft, conspiracy to commit a crime and violation of probation.
Gomez’s arrest on Tuesday morning was part of an ongoing investigation into the recent rash of mailbox break-ins. The operation was a coordination between the Stanislaus County Probation Department and the Turlock Police Department’s Community Outreach Response and Engagement officers.
The probation search was conducted around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at a home in the 100 block of Starr Avenue, where investigators found a “plethora of items which appear to have been stolen,” said Turlock Police spokesperson Sgt. Neil Cervenka.
The items discovered at the home included credit cards, drivers’ licenses, social security cards, birth certificates, checks, bank books, mail and a laptop computer – none of which belonged to any of the four people at the residence, Cervenka said.
Additional items were indicative of identity theft such as notebooks with the personal information of many different people.
“Detectives are still processing the evidence, but they conservatively estimate the number of victims at 60,” Cervenka said in a news release. “They will be attempting to contact the victims in the next few weeks to obtain statements.”
Mail theft is a growing crime in communities across the country, particularly in California, especially along the Highway 99 corridor from Bakersfield to Sacramento, which Rafael Nunez, the inspector in charge for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s San Francisco division described as a “hotbed of activity” and largely fueled by methamphetamine use.
Through 2016 and up to February the Turlock Police Department has had 224 reports of break-ins or damaged mailboxes.
“The Turlock Police Department relentlessly pursues these types of fraudulent crimes that cause repeated victimizations with damaged credit and financial loss for years,” Cervenka said. “We will continue to address this crime trend, devote resources and coordinate efforts with allied agencies to resolve these matters.”
Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to call Detective James Brewer 664-7331. You can also contact the Turlock Police Department’s Tip Line at 668-5550 extension 6780 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.