Four individuals have been apprehended after a string of wallet thefts in grocery stores in Thousand Oaks started in August 2022.
According to a statement from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, they received an increased number of reports of wallet thefts in grocery stores and other similar locations in Thousand Oaks starting in August of 2022 and continuing into the following September.
All the victims were older females being targeted while they shopped, officials said. The suspects reportedly waited until the victims took their eyes off their shopping carts to unzip their purses and steal their wallets. All the victims had stored their purses in the upper storage area of their carts.
After the wallet theft, the suspects withdrew large amounts of cash from various banks using the victim’s credit card and other identification information.
Video surveillance footage of the thefts obtained by law enforcement showed that in all the cases, the suspect completing the fraudulent transactions resembled the older female victims and that the female suspect seemed to be around the same age and have the same physical characteristics as the victims.
Authorities learned of additional wallet and identity theft reports in December 2022 and found that the more recent crimes were committed in a similar fashion to the thefts in August and September.
Upon further investigation and assistance from other law enforcement agencies, detectives learned of the involvement of the “Kilgore Crew”, an organized crime syndicate that includes members who were indicted by the Western District of Washington State in 2017. Detectives also learned that the crew was led by 61-year-old Darryl Kilgore of Van Nuys and that they had been committing numerous other wallet thefts followed by large cash withdrawals in and around Thousand Oaks for months.
Law enforcement officials received a tip that Kilgore was possibly in Thousand Oaks on March 15 and located him and two other associates, 72-year-old James Mitchell of Los Angeles and 53-year-old Katerina Oertel of Las Vegas, outside of two neighboring grocery stores in the 2700 block of Agoura Road. After Kilgore and Oertel were observed entering the grocery stores while Mitchell acted as the lookout, the three were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit identity theft. A subsequent search of Kilgore’s vehicle revealed additional evidence linking him and the other suspects to the August and September 2022 thefts.
The following day, detectives executed search warrants in the 13000 block of Wyandotte Street in Van Nuys and the 1600 block of West Pacific Coast Highway in Wilmington. Andre Holloway, 44, was arrested in Wilmington after the search warrants yielded additional evidence that he allegedly participated in several of the crimes involved in this investigation, authorities said.
Additional charges are expected to be filed against all the suspects. The investigation remains ongoing.