Officials say woman who stole half million in cash and precious metals was about to flee country

LAKE ELSINORE — Sheriff’s officials yesterday announced the arrest of a Los Angeles County woman they allege stole more than half a million in cash, precious metals and other personal property from a Lake Elsinore resident who was hospitalized after reportedly attempting to commit suicide last month. According to officials the alleged suspect was preparing to flee the country when she was located and arrested.

Investigators arrested Yelena Kellum after she allegedly stole more than a half million in cash, metals and other property last month. RSO booking photo

The woman, identified as Yelena Alexandrovna Kellum, 42, of Santa Clarita, was arrested on W. Soledad Canyon Road in Santa Clarita after investigators served multiple search warrants in LA County, according to Riverside Sheriff’s Brett Seckinger. While serving the warrants, investigators recovered nearly all the stolen property.

After serving the search warrants, investigators arrested Kellum and she was later booked into Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning on suspicion of grand theft. She remains in custody, held on $399,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned at Murrieta’s Southwest Justice Center, Feb. 7.

The investigation began about 1 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 27, when deputies assigned to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Lake Elsinore Police Station responded to an attempted suicide on Orion Street in Lake Elsinore. The victim, who has not been identified publicly, is expected to recover from what officials say were self-inflicted injuries.

Later that day, deputies learned from family members that a large amount of money, precious metals, a handgun and other property had been stolen from the victim’s residence.

Officials did not specify if the cash and other items were stolen before or after the victim’s suicide attempt.

Family members reportedly provided investigating officials with leads regarding who they suspected stole the property, at which time Lake Elsinore Station detectives assumed the investigation. Investigators eventually tracked the suspect to the city of Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County.

As their investigation continued, on Feb. 2 investigators served search warrants at a residence and storage unit in the city of Santa Clarita. While serving the warrants, investigators located and recovered $347,611 in cash, $151,000 in precious metals, and a Sig Sauer Model 1911 pistol. According to officials, $40,000 in cash was not recovered and is still unaccounted for.

Officials recovered cash, precious metals and other property stolen from a person who reportedly attempted to commit suicide, Jan. 27. RSO evidence photo

“Evidence was found showing (Kellum) was preparing to leave the country,” Seckinger explained. However, officials have identified other people believed to be in possession of the remaining stolen property and their investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information about this investigation is encouraged to contact Lead Investigator Carranza of the Lake Elsinore Station at (951) 245-3300. Callers can refer to incident file number L180270075 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.


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Trevor Montgomery, who recently moved from Riverside County to Shasta County, runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 grandchildren.

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