LOOMIS (CBS13) — Three people are in jail for breaking into the home of a dead former sheriff’s deputy and stealing his identity.
The Placer County Sheriff’s Office says the burglary happened in Loomis last May.
On top of stealing credit cards and checks, the suspects are also accused of stealing personal memorabilia from the victim, a former member of law enforcement.
The signs say “stay away” in front of the victim’s house in Loomis, but in May, three people reportedly broke through the gate to his home and stole his identity.
Rick Pipes, a neighbor, says, “He had been there for 20 or 25 years.”
Pipes said the victim, Bob, died just a few weeks before the break-in.
“He had lung cancer, six-months later, he was gone,” Pipes said.
The Sheriff’s Office isn’t releasing the victim’s identity, but we’re told these suspects somehow knew he died, and took advantage.
Angela Musallam with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said, “They took that as a crime of opportunity to break into the home and steal several priceless keepsakes, checks, and credit cards.”
“Unfortunately this is not a new crime,” said Eva Velasquez.
She is with the Identity Theft Resource Center and says this kind of crime is also called “ghosting,” but has nothing to do with the quick ending to a relationship.
“Most of the time we’re not talking about a burglary or actual physical theft of documents. Most of the time it’s just online thieves,” Velasquez said.
But in this case, these three people somehow made it inside this house. Velasquez said identity theft of the deceased is happening more often because nobody is expecting it.
“It’s something that people aren’t really thinking about because they’re mourning the loss of a loved one,” she said.
Detectives from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office conducted a probation search and arrested Tammy Miller, John Goble and John Cooper for burglary and identity theft.
They also found several items related to the burglary in Loomis and successfully recovered the decedent’s law enforcement memorabilia. Detectives said they located an identity theft lab containing numerous stolen identities and equipment used to produce counterfeit checks.
The suspects were arrested and booked into the Placer County Jail for various charges including burglary, identity theft, and financial elder abuse. Miller already has an outstanding no-bail warrant out of Placer County for identity theft of more than ten victims. Cooper has an active warrant out of Sacramento County.