The city of Irvine proudly proclaims itself America's safest city, and it surely is when it comes to your garden variety rapes, assaults and murders. But even America's safest city must deal with scam artists, boiler room operators and FBI informants who infiltrate mosques.
Indeed, it's that ballyhooed safety-ness that had heads shaking about two straight press releases from the Irvine Police Department about recent crimes involving the misuse of craigslist--not to mention a third that involved an undisclosed website.
Yesterday, we brought you the arrest of a San Marcos fellow accused of taking some fellows in Irvine and elsewhere through a craigslist ads offering what turned out to be phony iPhones:
Early Wednesday, Irvine Police detectives arrested two young men who allegedly stole at gunpoint a laptop computer from a man who had put it up for sale on craigslist.
The Huntington Beach resident had arranged to swap the computer for cash Sunday in an Irvine park, but during the transaction the supposed buyer pulled not a wallet from his coat but a handgun. He demanded the laptop and then ran away with it to a waiting car driven by another.
Investigators say they received a tip Tuesday evening that the robbers were in Dana Point. Detectives driving in the area spotted a vehicle that matched the description of the getway car from the Irvine park. The driver, who apparently realized he'd been spotted, began driving erratically for a short distance before he stopped and his passenger jumped out and ran off.
The driver was later stopped by the detectives. Officers from the California Highway Patrol and Orange County Sheriff's Department searched for the guy on foot. He later turned up in the women's restroom of a local restaurant, according to Irvine police.
The gunman was later identified as Xavier Austin Parnell, 24, of Canoga Park, while the driver was a former Irvine resident, Matthew Erick Davis, 22. They were arrested on suspicion of armed robbery, conspiracy and petty theft and booked into the Orange County Jail.
Police say they recovered a black replica handgun in the getaway car. The laptop had already been sold to someone in Yorba Linda, but it was later recovered and returned to the Huntington Beach man.
Meanwhile, the detectives were also dealing with an Irvine woman who was notified by her credit card company that an Internet purchase of a $2,700 Louis Vuitton bag had been declined. Upon further investigation, it was discovered the same card had been used to buy other high-end items that were being delivered to the woman's Irvine home.
The only thing is, the woman ordered no such products.
When it was determined one item would be delivered Tuesday, detectives watched the home. As the delivery truck arrived, they saw a different woman get out of her, meet the deliveryman and grab the package. She was then detained.
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Judy Nguyen, 28, was arrested on suspicion of grand theft, identity theft and the unauthorized use of a credit card. A search of her Anaheim home produced more than $6,000 worth of new, high-end designer shoes and handbags, police say.
"Based on the quantity and value of property recovered, it is likely there are other victims of Nguyen," reads a statement from Irvine Police Lt. Julia Engen, the department spokeswoman. "Detectives believe Nguyen was reselling the property over the Internet. The investigation into how Nguyen obtains victim's credit information is on-going."
If you think you might have been a victim, call Detective Brian Smith at 949.724.7267 or email email@example.com.
By the way, hoping for a craigslist trifecta, I asked Engen if any of the stolen stuff had been sold through the website. That's unclear at this time.