VALLEY VILLAGE (CBSLA.com) — Police have arrested a man they suspect was preying on elderly people by staging traffic collisions.
David Stevens targeted people between 70 and 90 years old at upscale grocery stores in the San Fernando Valley and Mid-City areas, according to the Van Nuys Police Department.
Investigators say the man would follow the victims as they drove away from a grocery store and honked to get their attention.
Stevens then would allegedly accuse the victims of hitting his car and ask them for cash to pay for repairs.
“He’s a scoundrel,” an elderly woman in Valley Village told CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Suraya Fadel. “This car pulled alongside, honked. I rolled my window down and he said, ‘You backed into me at the market.’” “I talked to him through the window, he never got out of the car,” the woman said.
She’s just one of 10 people who’ve come forward saying Stevens victimized them. Police suspect there may be other victims.
There were reportedly no signs of damage on the victims’ cars – only on Stevens’ vehicle. Stevens would allegedly tell victims he didn’t want to deal with insurance companies and instead pushed for them to compensate him for the supposed damages in cash.
The elderly woman who spoke to Fadel said Stevens was convincing and his fear tactics were aggressive.
Investigators say in one case, the suspect harassed an 87-year-old man multiple times, stalking him and forcing him to pay up to $31,000.
Police say the suspect followed victims to their homes, banks or ATMs. Stevens has been jailed with bail set at more than $1 million.
Investigators ask that anyone else who may have been targeted by Stevens to call Van Nuys Division Detective Marjan Mobasser at (818) 374-0053. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).