Ventura – We’ve all heard the admonition to be careful about using the ATM at our local bank branch. Know who’s nearby, don’t let anyone look over your shoulder, and keep your PIN number out of view of passersby.
Very good advice, as evidenced by the investigation by Ventura Police Department Street Crimes Unit, which began in the Spring of 2015 pursuant to reported cash thefts from two Bank of America branches in the City of Ventura. With victims reporting the loss of $400 in unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts, their memories were jogged sufficiently to recall, according to the VPD Watch Commander’s report, “a suspicious male loitering nearby” as they’d made ATM withdrawals.
Detectives, working in concert with Bank of America security staff, reviewed surveillance video images recorded at the subject ATM units, and observed the same individual making unauthorized withdrawals “immediately after the victims had walked away” from the ATM machine. With purloined funds in excess of $3500 and taking place over the ensuing several months, detectives posted the ATM image of an individual later identified as Eric Arteaga, a 24-year-old Camarillo resident, on the VPD’s Facebook page.
The power of social media became apparent as detectives began receiving anonymous tips as to Arteaga’s identity, and it wasn’t long before a search warrant of his residence was served. Pursuant to the search, in which physical evidence connecting Arteaga to the ATM thefts was found, he was placed under arrest and transported to Ventura County Jail, where he was booked on multiple felony counts of identity theft.
Arteaga had been arrested one year ago while living in Oxnard. He was charged in August with being under the influence of a controlled substance, and when he failed to show up in court, a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was charged once again a month later.