Ventura Co. woman evacuating storms has credit cards stolen, fraud charges racked up

A woman evacuating floods in the Ventura County area earlier this month had her credit cards stolen from the car she had to abandon. Two men have been arrested for stealing the cards and racking up nearly $2,000 in fraudulent charges, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced Monday.

The woman was evacuating on Jan. 9, getting away from severe weather and flooding in the area, when officials said her car got stranded in mud near the area of S. Mountain and Balcom Canyon roads in an unincorporated area of Ventura County. She had to abandon her car, leaving behind several personal items, including her credit cards.

The next day, her bank alerted her of fraudulent purchases made on the cards totaling more than $1,800. Ventura County officials said someone broke into the car, stole the woman's credit cards, then used those cards at several area businesses. Using surveillance video from those businesses, detectives were able to identify two suspects — Pedro Chavez of Fillmore and Rodrigo Perez of Santa Paula

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Chavez was arrested on Jan. 25; Perez was arrested on Monday. When officials served a search warrant on a car driven by Chavez and Perez, they found multiple items that had been bought with the stolen credit cards. 

Both Chavez and Perez face multiple charges including identity theft, conspiracy to commit a crime and receiving stolen property. They're both being held on $50,000 bond and will be in court later this week.