Robbery at Eagle Falls parking lot |

Robbery at Eagle Falls parking lot

Gregory Crofton

You go for a hike at Eagle Falls, lock your wallet in a car and think it will be safe.

A day later, you’re at a bank machine trying to get cash but you can’t find your card. It’s nowhere, but your wallet still has cash and other credit cards in it.

You check and find thousands of dollars have been fraudulently charged on the card.

That was the story for Alanna Hughes, a 31-year-old from Truckee, and her boyfriend, Barry Mohn, 27. On Aug. 30, someone broke into Hughes’ Toyota 4Runner took a credit card and then relocked the truck causing her not to notice the theft.

Much later they both discovered a credit card missing from their wallets.

By the time she checked the balance on her card someone in Las Vegas had charged $4,185 to her card. Mohn’s card recorded an attempted transaction at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.

El Dorado County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Johnston said he’s seen two similar thefts this summer at Camp Richardson and Emerald Bay and recalled a rash of them during the summer of 1999.

“They picked high-dollar vehicles,” Johnston said. “They saw the wallet, slim-jimmed the door removed one credit card out of a half dozen, and a month later victims get a credit card bill for $10,000.”

In 1999, the problem was so prevalent that the Sheriff’s Department circulated a flier telling law enforcement agents to keep an eye out.

It paid off. A U.S. Forest Service employee spotted two suspicious men at the Tallac Trailhead in November. Deputies arrested Ionut Buzbuchi, 45, and Daniel Elekes, 26. They found the men with burglary tools and 25 to 30 credit cards.

Johnston said the men were part of a larger ring that used fake driver’s licenses to get cash from the cards.

“They’d take the cards and go down to clubs (in Vegas),” he said. “The clubs are real lousy at keeping videotape records and with such a high volume it’s easy to get away with.”

To avoid such a crime, keep valuables in your car out of sight, Johnston said.

“At least secure them in the trunk so they are not visible from outside the vehicle,” he said. “Just because it’s a credit card it doesn’t mean someone doesn’t have the skills they can use to get money out of it.”

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