LAKEWOOD, Calif. – A felon suspected of posing as a police detective and stealing more than $100,000 from Spanish-speaking handymen has been arrested, and other possible victims are being urged to contact authorities.
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a victim went to the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station in June to report a theft. He told investigators he had placed an ad on the “El Clasificado” website for handyman work and was contacted by Martin Alejandro to perform work at his home in Bellflower.
During the meeting, the man identified himself as an “LA police detective” and said he had access to confiscated and towed vehicles from the police department to sell, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
The 56-year-old man offered to sell the victim two hybrid vehicles for a $7,000 deposit via Zelle and another $7,000 once the vehicles were delivered, Villanueva said Tuesday.
But the man did not deliver the vehicles after the deposit was paid, and ignored repeated phone calls from the victim, according to Villanueva. However, the victim managed to reach the man once via phone call, in which he was told by the suspect “that he was a detective and if he didn’t want any problems, he should stay away,” Villanueva said.
Sheriff’s detectives began an investigation into the victim’s report and subsequently arrested the suspect at his Bellflower home Thursday, Villanueva reported. He was booked on suspicion of grand theft and impersonating a peace officer.
Investigators later learned Alejandro had been arrested in 2014 for impersonating an officer, grand theft and being a felon in a possession of a firearm, though the impersonation charges were later dropped. He did receive a sentence of two years and 8 months for the possession and grand theft charges, the sheriff’s department reported.
Authorities have identified eight victims who reported similar thefts from the suspect totaling over $100,000, according to Villanueva, who also noted that all the victims “are Hispanic and Spanish speakers” who are either handymen or do construction work and advertised their services on the “El Clasificado” website.
Anyone who may have been a victim of Alejandro was asked to call sheriff’s Det. Cesar Gallegos at 562-925-0124. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at lacrimestoppers.org.