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'Grinch' Free On Bond, Detectives Work To Return Gifts

Michael Wieczorek, 42, was booked Wednesday into the Lomita Station jail on suspicion of stealing several Christmas packages and identities throughout the South Bay. He is free on bond this morning and will appear in court next month.

LOMITA (CNS) - A San Pedro man is free on bond this morning but under
orders to appear in court next month for allegedly stealing identities and
Christmas packages from porches at homes in the South Bay and elsewhere.

Detectives were responding to the theft of a package from a Rancho Palos
Verdes home when their investigation led them Wednesday to uncover an
identity theft operation and recover thousands of dollars worth of stolen
items, said Sgt. Mark Moffett of the Los Angeles County sheriff's Lomita
Station.

Most of the items were believed stolen from porches or through
fraudulent purchases made after identity thefts, he said in a statement.

The recovered property will be on display between noon and 2 p.m. today
at the Lomita Station, giving victims a chance to recover gifts in time for
Christmas. It includes vacuum cleaners and other houseware, jewelry, clothing,
and toys, including an air-soft pellet rifle, he said.

Michael Wieczorek, 42, was booked Wednesday into the Lomita Station jail
on suspicion of petty theft with a prior theft, which is a felony, and
released Thursday morning after posting $20,000 bond, according to the
sheriff's department. He is next due in Torrance Superior Court on Jan. 10.

The arrest came after detectives identified Wieczorek as a suspect in
the theft of a package from the porch of home on Redondela Drive in Rancho
Palos Verdes, Moffett said.

When they found him, he was in possession of narcotics, credit cards and
identification documents that were not his, and a Kershaw-brand knife
reported stolen from a residence on Nancy Road in Rancho Palos Verdes, he said.

During a search of his home, investigators found "a plethora of
instruments used to commit identity theft, including computers, credit card
reading devices, counterfeit California driver's licenses, altered checks and
fraudulent income tax forms,'' Moffett said.

"The evidence discovered lead detectives to believe the suspect was
filing tax returns using various victims' identities in order to steal their
tax return,'' he said.

Also found were pieces of mail addressed to people in Rolling Hills
Estates, Torrance, Palos Verdes Estates, San Pedro, Los Angeles, Carson, Long
Beach, Lakewood, Redlands, Temecula, Auburn, Murrieta and Bellevue, Wash.,
Moffett said.

"Especially disturbing was the numerous Christmas cards recovered in
the stolen mail,'' he said.

At Wieczorek's San Pedro home, detectives found stolen and fraudulently
purchased items under his Christmas tree, Moffett said, adding that these
included a set of pajamas "with a distinctive red snowflake pattern'' that had
been stolen from a home on Nancy Road in Rancho Palos Verdes.

The purloined PJs were "in holiday wrapping and gifted to the suspect's
mother,'' Moffett said. "The tag read: `To: Mom, Love: Michael.'"

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