Yavapai County Sheriff's Office (YCSO) detectives have arrested Chino Valley resident, Summer Arnold, 27, on various charges of fraudulent schemes, mail and identity theft and forgery, according to Dwight D'Evelyn, YCSO spokesman in a press release.
The charges involve the theft of business checks from a Prescott area church that police say Arnold cashed at area Safeway and Fry stores and the theft of mail and the use of stolen checks from 24 Chino Valley residents.
Arnold is in custody pending a January court date, the press release said.
During the last part of November and early December, YCSO deputies conducted an extensive mail theft and check fraud investigation resulting in the Arnold's arrest.
On Nov. 21, 2008, a Prescott-area church reported a theft of business checks from the church mailbox. Several checks were cashed and eventually returned to the victim after being used on various dates at the Chino Valley Safeway. Deputies followed up at the Safeway store and reviewed video tapes of these transactions depicting a female using the stolen checks. On at least one occasion, the name Arnold was provided with a Safeway membership card during the check transaction and this matched the identity on another stolen check used at a retail outlet in Prescott. Law enforcement data sources provided identification on Arnold and a physical description that matched the suspect seen in the videos. Attempts to locate Arnold at that time were unsuccessful.
On Dec. 2, 2008, a Chino Valley Safeway employee called YCSO to report Arnold in the store attempting to cash another stolen check. A YCSO detective arrived and detained Arnold. She was arrested, interviewed and linked to the use of at least 10 stolen checks at various locations in the tri-city area. She was booked at the Prescott Detention Center for various counts of Fraudulent Schemes.
Another investigation, beginning on Nov. 23, 2008, eventually linked Arnold to mail theft and additional check fraud. This investigation started when a Chino Valley resident found opened mail strewn about Morgan Trail in Chino Valley. Deputies recovered the mail and sent letters to 24 Chino Valley residents to alert them regarding the found mail. Several replied and information was found linking Arnold to the use of stolen checks belonging to these residents. During follow-up on Dec. 4, 2008, Arnold was interviewed while in custody and admitted to several thefts of mail and use of stolen checks at Safeway and Fry's markets. She was additionally charged with Theft of Mail, Identity Theft, Fraudulent Schemes and Forgery. Arnold remains in-custody pending a January court date.
Mail theft prevention tips from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service can be found on a sidebar article with this article.