Around 10:54 p.m. on March 26, a patrol deputy travelling southbound on Old Highway 53 in Clearlake noticed someone make an illegal U-turn at the intersection of Old 53 and Lakeview, then fail to stop at the posted stop sign. An enforcement stop soon followed.
It was then that the deputy met 22-year-old Cesar Alejandro Rodriguez, of Hidden Valley Lake, who explained that he’d just left Wal-Mart and was on his way home after changing his mind about stopping at an ATM. He denied carrying anything illegal and consented to a search of his person and his vehicle.
During the pat down, the deputy ran across what he believed to be a sizable stack of money folded in half in Rodriguez’s right front pocket. A search of the vehicle turned up a black backpack containing a woman’s wallet with her driver’s license inside, as well as a school binder and indica belonging to Rodriguez.
Rodriguez spun the tale as thus — He’d found the wallet on the floor at Twin Pine Casino in Middletown, where he’d recently started working, just a couple days ago at around 1 in the morning. He’d put it into his pocket and simply forgotten to turn it in when he left his shift that evening, later discovering it and intending to turn it in at his next scheduled shift. He denied taking anything out of the wallet but did say he’d gone through it to see what was inside. He eventually worked his way up to admitting that he’d driven to a McDonald’s in Clearlake and used one of the debit cards to buy an ice cream cone, just to see if the card was good. It was.
So he went to Wal-Mart and bought a few more things. Then to a bank to access the card’s account via ATM, using the victim’s year of birth shown on her driver’s license as her PIN. He ended up withdrawing a total of $880 from the account balance of $914.00.
By this point, a second deputy had arrived to assist and located the victim’s debit card on the ground about six feet away from where Rodriguez was standing. Rodriguez admitted to tossing the card aside once the deputy showed up.
Oh, and that bulge in his front right pocket was indeed a wad of cash. Rodriguez had $880 in $20 denominations divided between his pocket and his sock. He also had three $100 bills, receipts accounting for his use of the cards, and the cards themselves in his wallet. After all was said and done, Rodriguez had drained the victim’s account down to $3.43. Not even enough for a Red Bull.
He was arrested for burglary, possession of stolen property, misappropriation of lost property, theft, using an access card without the cardholder’s consent, and destroying/concealing evidence. He was taken to the Lake County Hill Road Correctional Facility and booked.
Lake County News: Man arrested on burglary charges in Clearlake