FONTANA (CBSLA.com) — Two women on probation for burglary have been arrested on suspicion of carrying out a massive identity theft operation in Fontana.
On Monday, police showed photos of a trove of stolen mail stuffed in gym bags, duffel bags and backpacks. They contained personal data Fontana police said the two accused thieves used to power their identity theft operation.
The suspects, Denette Alvarez and Charlina Miller, were caught while trying to break into mailboxes along Beech Avenue, police said.
Casie Mann was among the many victims, who had their identity stolen. She said it was her neighbor who saw the two accused thieves in action, followed them and called police.
Miller was also arrested less than a month ago on suspicion of trying to cash a fraudulent check.
Detectives said they found computers, stolen mail, W-2 forms, ID’s, credit cards, tax returns and more at the suspects’ homes.
“It’s been pretty rampant in the area, especially because of the W-2 returns,” Robert Estes said. “A victim of that is horrible because we work so hard to establish our identity and our credit rating.”
Once your identity is stolen, it’s no easy task to restore your credit.
“A nightmare. You know you work. You’re a mom. You do all the things you’re supposed to do, and then you’ve to spend time trying to hash out who just got my identity, who’s going through my credit cards,” Mann said.
So far, Fontana police have identified 250 victims. But they are still combing through everything they found.
Police said criminals are committing mail thefts more often now because the punishment is not as tough as it once was.