The arrest of two males attempting to use fraudulent money at Cigarettes Cheaper in Hercules led to the arrest of three others for suspected mail theft.
During the investigation, Hercules Police searched the vehicle of the two initial males arrested, 27-year-old Justin Conlon of Martinez and Hercules resident 25-year-old Brandon Thomas-Harris and found two large suitcases full of mail stolen from at least 25 Hercules addresses.
The investigation also led officers to a house in the 2300 block of Redwood Road where they found additional stolen mail and arrested three Hercules residents: 36-year-old Paul Pena, 63-year-old Carlos Rivera, and 54-year-old Silvia Solorzano. Officers also recovered mail stolen from 19 other cities in five counties.
From the Hercules Police Department:
On April 2, 2013, at 3:13 PM, Hercules Officers were dispatched to the Cigarettes Cheaper Store, at 1511 Sycamore Ave. The reporting party said two adult males were attempting to make a purchase using counterfeit money. Officers located the males in front of the Big Lots, next to the Cigarette Cheaper Store.
25 year old Brandon Thomas-Harris, of Hercules, was identified as the person who entered the Cigarettes Cheaper and made a purchase using counterfeit 20 dollar bills. Thomas-Harris entered the store a second time and tried to make another purchase with additional counterfeit 20 dollar bills. When he was contacted Thomas-Harris had three counterfeit $20 dollar bills in his possession. Thomas-Harris was arrested for Second Degree Burglary (entering a business with the intent to commit theft), and Possession of Counterfeit Currency.
27 year old Justin Reed Conlon, of Martinez, was determined to have a $25,000 Felony warrant, out of Napa County, for Possession of Stolen Property. Conlon was arrested on the warrant. Conlon was in possession of several credit cards, and identification, that were not in his name.
During the course of the investigation Officers determined that both suspects were associated with a vehicle, which was parked in the parking lot. Officers towed the vehicle, incident to the arrest, as it was parked on private property. Officers conducted an “Inventory Search” of the vehicle, as part of the towing procedure. Inside the vehicle Officers found two large suitcases which contained a large amount of mail and various documents. Items of mail were recovered from at least 25 Hercules addresses. Officers made contact with several of the residents and determined that their mail had been stolen. Charges of Possession of Stolen Property were added for both suspects. Both suspects were transported to the Martinez Detention Facility.
When the property in the suitcases was inventoried, Officers recovered mail from nineteen additional Cities, in five Counties. From Contra Costa County the Cities were Danville; El Sobrante; Concord; Martinez, Lafayette; Rodeo, Moraga; Pleasant Hill; Orinda; and Walnut Creek. From Solano County the Cities were Suisun City and American Canyon. From Napa County the Cities were Napa; Angwin; and St Helena. From Alameda County the Cities were Oakland; and San Ramon. There was also mail from Mill Valley, in Marin County; and Torrance, in Los Angeles County. The mail from the other Cities was turned over to the Postal Inspectors Office.
On April 3, 2013 Officers executed a search warrant on an address in the 2300 block of Redwood Rd. The address was associated with one of the suspects arrested on April 2,2013. There were two adult males, and one adult female, occupying the house when the officers arrived. They were detained during the search. Officers found additional stolen mail, “controlled substances”; and cash (believed to be legitimate). 36 year old Paul Pena, of Hercules; 63 year old Carlos Rivera, of Hercules; and 54 year old Silvia Solorzano, of Hercules; were arrested for Possession of Stolen Property; Possession of a Controlled Substance; and Possession of a Controlled Substance for Sales. They were all transported to the Martinez Detention Facility.
On April 4, 2013 the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office charged Brandon Thomas;Harris with one count of Second Degree Burglary. Justin Reed Conlon was charged with seven counts of Possession of Stolen Property (mail). Additional charges may be added as additional victims are identified and interviewed.
The cases on Pena, Riviera and Solorzano have not been presented to the District Attorney,pending additional investigation.