MENIFEE: High-profile theft from 85-year-old shopper results in two arrests

MENIFEE — A relatively minor theft of an elderly woman’s wallet – stolen right from inside the victim’s purse as it sat in a shopping cart while the victim shopped at a Menifee Stater Bros. Market – gained attention throughout the Inland Empire and beyond and resulted in the arrest of two San Bernardino women yesterday. The two alleged suspects were arrested at a home in Perris and they were later booked on a variety of charges, according to sheriff’s officials.

After a thorough, week-long investigation and with help from a heart-felt social media plea from the victim’s grand daughter, deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Menifee Police Station arrested 26-year-old, Domonique Porche Richmond and 44-year-old Deidre Yvonne Smith. The two were later booked into Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.

After a week-long investigation, authorities arrested 26-year-old, Domonique Porche Richmond and 44-year-old Deidre Yvonne Smith after the pair allegedly worked together to steal an elderly woman’s wallet in Menifee.

After hearing about the theft the victim’s grand daughter Summer Karr said the last thing her grand mother needed was to be victimized at the neighborhood market where she likes to shop.

According to Summer, her grandmother Joan Roper was already dealing with the loss of her husband last year as well as the loss of her brother last month when the theft happened.

“I was heart broken after hearing she was victimized. She didn’t deserve this,” Summer explained after the sheriff’s department announced yesterday’s arrests. “I just thought to myself how could somebody do that? You have to be heartless to take from anyone let alone one of our elders.”

The Sheriff’s investigation began Tuesday, Feb. 20, about 6 p.m., when a deputy was dispatched to the Stater Bros. regarding the theft of a wallet. The store is located at 29061 Newport Road in Menifee.

The deputy determined an 85-year-old woman from Menifee had been grocery shopping at the store “when her wallet was stolen from her purse,” Lieutenant Raymond Huskey explained after the pair’s arrest. Although the victim did not initially realize she had been victimized, after she realized her wallet was missing from her purse she contact the store’s manager.

The store manager immediately accessed and reviewed the store’s security surveillance system and confirmed that she had been the victim of a theft and called the police,” said Huskey.

Based on the circumstances, members of Menifee’s  Burglary and Theft Suppression Team assumed the investigation and immediately began working to solve this crime.

After learning about the theft and that the store had surveillance footage of the incident as well as the entire time the two alleged suspects were stalking Roper, Summer’s sister Rainbow Karr felt she had to do something.

After learning about the theft, one of the victim’s grand daughters posted an impassioned plea for help identifying one of two women who allegedly worked together to steal the victim’s wallet.

Rainbow was so incensed she decided to take her grand mother’s case to social media on her behalf. She went onto Facebook and posted a surveillance footage image showing the moment Richmond reached into the elderly shopper’s purse and stole her wallet.

In the image, Ropers arm and hand can be seen mere inches away from her purse as she momentarily leans away from her cart while shopping.

The image appears to show Richmond reaching into Roper’s purse and removing the victim’s wallet and she appears to be watching for anyone who might have spotted her.

The image, which Rainbow shared on Facebook had been shared more than 1,600 times and viewed by tens of thousands of people on social media by the time sheriff’s officials announced the arrests.

As the investigation was continuing, BST members determined the original suspect depicted in the video had not acted alone in the theft and deputies eventually identified the two San Bernardino women as having worked together to steal Roper’s purse.

BST members developed information and gathered evidence that led them to an address on Wilson Avenue in the city of Perris, where they located and arrested Richmond and Smith yesterday.

An online jail records search revealed Richmond was booked on an out-of-county warrant on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and felony violation of state parole. Although she was not booked on charges related to the theft, according to Huskey there are “multiple pending charges” against her. She remains in custody based on her warrant and she is being held without bail.

Smith was also booked on a warrant for second-degree burglary, theft by forgery or credit card, two counts of petty theft, false impersonation for financial gain and a prior state prison enhancement. Like Richmond, Smith is also facing multiple pending charges related to the wallet theft investigation, according to Huskey.

The pair could be facing charges of robbery or theft as well as elder-abuse related charges.

After hearing about the swift apprehensions Summer said she was happy for her “grandma” and that officials gave her “the justice and clarity she deserves.”

Discussing the arrests and the role the community played through the use of social media Summer explained, “I think it’s very important for our community to stick together. We should always look out for one another.”

Saying she believed social media was “one of the big reasons the women were caught so quickly,” and helped increase the chances of her grandmother getting justice, Summer thanked those from around the community who showed their support and for “uniting as one.”

She also thanked the deputies for their diligent service “cleaning the streets of the wicked.”

“Unfortunately we live in times where there is a lot of negative and ugly,” Summer explained. “But hopefully we can pull together more often and make the world beautiful again.”

In spite of the arrests the investigation is active and ongoing and the Menifee Police Department has asked that anyone with information regarding this incident or others involving Richmond and Smith to contact Investigator Dan Brown of MPD’s Burglary and Theft Suppression Team at (951) 210-1000. Callers can refer to incident file number  number ME180510127 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

Rainbow Karr-Facebook post


Contact the writer:

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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