Ventura County – In a world where we’re all being watched everywhere we go by any number of video recording devices, criminals would be well advised to never go out in public without wearing a very convincing disguise.
Maybe Steve Michael Stevens, a 30-year old Ventura County transient, just hasn’t heard the message that video surveillance is ubiquitous today, and that ripping people off in gas stations is probably akin to thievery “in broad daylight.” According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Jason Robarts, it was only four days ago, on June 22nd that “video surveillance was released to the public” clearly depicting a young man in the company of his family as he was engaged in “stealing a disabled elderly lady’s wallet.”
Stevens’ crime was apparently well-rehearsed and involved the distraction of his victims, pursuant to which he would remove their wallets from their purses. As soon as the video was released to the public online, more than two dozen phone calls were received by Thousand Oaks Investigators reporting thefts that took place with various modus operandi. Reports indicated that Stevens would approach prospective victims in gas stations, offering to repair minor scratches and dents on their vehicles. He’d then cover any damage with a bogus waxy substance and accept payment, instructing his victims to simply wipe off the substance the following day.
Victims would later learn that no repair had actually taken place, and that finding Stevens to demand a refund was not likely. In the alternative, Stevens would require payment for repair parts in advance, and then simply abscond with the funds, never returning to effect any actual repair.
Following the release of the incriminating video, Stevens was identified by a number of victims, and he was subsequently located and arrested on the afternoon of June 24th, whereupon he was transported to Ventura County Jail and booked on charges of grand theft and financial elder abuse, with his bail set at $55,000.
Photo: Courtesy Ventura County Jail Booking