Felony charges were filed Monday against a convicted felon accused of snatching wallets, watches and other items from lockers at gyms in Lake Elsinore and Oceanside.
Brandan Morales Rodriguez, 29, of Lake Elsinore was arrested Thursday after he was allegedly caught stealing from a locker room at the LA Fitness on Dexter Avenue.
He’s scheduled to make his initial court appearance Monday afternoon at the Southwest Justice Center on charges of grant theft and identity theft with a sentence-enhancing allegation of committing a crime within five years of parole from state prison.
According to Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Brett Seckinger, Rodriguez allegedly accessed a locker at the Dexter Avenue LA Fitness on April 20 and swiped a man’s laptop computer, wedding band and Costco gift cards.
Seckinger said investigators did not identify a suspect in the theft until the victim, whose name was not released, reported that his gift cards had been used at a local Costco a week later.
Detectives obtained security surveillance video from the store and screen-captured images of the individual using the cards, then circulated flyers with the suspect’s pictures, according to the sergeant.
On Thursday, a member of the Lake Elsinore LA Fitness recognized the accused perpetrator as Rodriguez and observed the ex-con open several lockers, stealing a wallet from one of them, Seckinger alleged.
Gym staff detained the suspect while a manager summoned deputies. Rodriguez was taken into custody without a struggle.
Search warrants served at the suspect’s Lake Elsinore residence and a location in San Jacinto led to the seizure of the laptop, “along with 15 men’s watches and 10 men’s wallets,” Seckinger said.
He said some of the property allegedly belonged to members of the LA Fitness in Oceanside.
Rodriguez, who’s being held in lieu of $30,000 bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta, has prior convictions for burglary and receiving stolen property, according to court records.