Mountain View Voice

News - February 26, 2010

Police find $10K in stolen checks, two arrested

by Kelsey Mesher

Mountain View police say they recovered more than $10,000 in checks and a plethora of other stolen mail while conducting an early-morning traffic stop last week.

At approximately 2:15 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 15, an officer pulled over a vehicle with four people for a traffic violation, according to reports.

"The driver claimed she did not have any ID or driver's license on her," said police spokesperson Liz Wylie. She said it was determined that two of the passengers were on probation.

"Due to the fact that two of them are on probation, that gives us the right to search not only them but also the car," Wylie said, adding that the officer could also legally search the vehicle to find identification for the driver.

The passengers on probation were clean, said Wylie, "But when we search the car we find a backpack that's basically filled with mail."

Five checks belonging to "Greenwood Circle HOA," made out to various people or companies and valued at just over $10,000, were among the recovered mail. Wylie said investigators were still going through the rest of the mail, and did not yet know from where it had been stolen.

"Theft of mail is illegal," she said, "but what we're really looking for is if there's identity theft, or check fraud."

Wylie said it was determined during the investigation that the driver and the fourth passenger, who was not on probation, were responsible for the stolen mail.

Beverly Minnich, 29, of Morgan Hill and Jarrod Azatt, 30, of Mountain View, were arrested for possession of stolen property. Wylie said Azatt was later charged with giving false information to a police officer because he initially had lied about his identity.

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