A mail-order pair of red snowflake pajamas was among stolen items detectives said they found wrapped beneath the Christmas tree Wednesday of a suspect deputies dubbed the "San Pedro Grinch."
The package—which included a tag reading "To: Mom, Love: Michael"—was found in the home of San Pedro resident Michael Wieczorek, 42, who was arrested in connection with the package thefts, according to a news release from Sgt. Mark Moffett of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Lomita Station.
The pajamas were reported stolen from an address on Nancy Road in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Other items in the home that matched those reported stolen were vacuum cleaners, jewelry, toys, an airsoft pellet rifle, blenders, clothing and cookware.
Detectives also found mail that had apparently been stolen from residents of Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance, Palos Verdes Estates, Long Beach, San Pedro, Carson, Los Angeles, Lakewood, Redlands, Temecula, Auburn, Murrieta and Bellevue, Wash.
"Especially disturbing was the numerous Christmas cards recovered among the stolen mail," Moffett wrote.
Additionally, detectives discovered "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" in Wieczorek's home, according to Moffett.
"The evidence discovered (led) detectives to believe the suspect was filing tax returns using various victims’ identities in order to steal their tax (refund)," Moffett wrote.
The investigation began when a package was stolen from the porch of a Rancho Palos Verdes home on Redondela Drive. It wasn't immediately clear from the news release how detectives came to suspect Wieczorek; however, when he was arrested, Wieczorek was in possession of narcotics, credit cards and identification that did not belong to him, as well as a Kershaw-brand knife that had been reported stolen from a residence on Nancy Road in Rancho Palos Verdes, Moffett said.
Wieczorek was released from custody after posting a $20,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Torrance Superior Court on Jan. 10, 2013.
The recovered property will be on display at the Lomita Sheriff's Station on Friday from noon to 2 p.m. People whose packages were stolen are welcome to see if they can identify their items. For more information about the recovered property showing, call Moffett or Detective David Peterson at 310-539-1661.
The Lomita Sheriff's Station is located at 26123 Narbonne Ave. in Lomita.
To prevent package theft, follow these tips from the U.S. Postal Service:
- Ask a friend or family member to pick up the pending packages.
- Ask the company delivering the package to hold it at the post office or delivery center.
- Have packages delivered at your place of work.
- Do not leave packages out for a lengthy amount of time; pick them up as soon as possible.