Authorities have arrested a person they are saying stole the pockets of a firefighter who was battling a Bay Space wildfire and used the bank cards inside to rack up a number of fraudulent purchases, together with one for $1,400.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart mentioned the suspect, recognized as 37-year-old Dwell Oak resident Brian Johnson, was arrested late Wednesday and confessed to his crime.
When questioned by a sheriff’s investigator, Hart mentioned, Johnson “admitted that he had used the credit cards and made the charges. He also sat down and wrote a letter of apology to the fireman.”
Hart mentioned the firefighter, whose title was not launched, is an worker of the California Division of Forestry and Fireplace Safety. Officers mentioned the pockets was stolen out of his automobile final weekend whereas he was out battling the CZU Lightning Advanced hearth.
“That case really resonated with me because here we had somebody who came from completely out of the area, left their family, left their normal life to come here to Santa Cruz County to help our community get through the most catastrophic fire that we’ve seen in our history, and then somebody has the audacity to steal from this man,” Hart mentioned throughout a Thursday information convention.
Hart mentioned investigators acquired a tip from the general public that led them to establish Johnson as a possible suspect. Authorities searched his house and located not too long ago bought merchandise, in addition to clothes that the suspect had been seen sporting on surveillance video, the sheriff mentioned.
Johnson was arrested on suspicion of a number of felony costs, together with forgery, grand theft, bank card theft, possession of stolen property and a probation violation, Hart mentioned. He’s scheduled to be arraigned Friday, court docket data present.
Hart mentioned Thursday that investigators have been nonetheless working to find out whether or not another individuals may have been concerned.
To reassure Californians who’ve expressed curiosity in making donations to assist cowl the firefighter’s losses, Hart mentioned all of the fraudulent costs — the full quantity of which was not instantly disclosed — have already been reversed.
The firefighter “wanted to extend his appreciation for all the support and the offers,” Hart mentioned, “but he said he’s good now and all he wants to do is get up on that fire line and do his job.”
The CZU Lightning Advanced has burned greater than 82,000 acres in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties and was 26% contained as of Friday morning, in line with Cal Fireplace.
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