Theft suspects posing as home-buyers arrested
They allegedly stole wallets, purses while visiting open houses
Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, June 29, 2007
sfgate_get_fprefs();A man posing as a prospective home-buyer and a woman who represented herself as his mother were arrested Thursday after they allegedly made the rounds at open houses throughout the Bay Area, stealing purses and wallets, police said.
Paul McClung, 30, and Carol Ann Chapman, 59, were arrested in Missouri while driving a Hummer they had rented, allegedly with a stolen credit card, Berkeley police Lt. Wes Hester said. The car’s tracking system led police to the pair.
McClung and Chapman have been showing up since April at real estate offices and open houses in upscale neighborhoods of Berkeley, Oakland, Fremont, Newark, Piedmont, Kensington and San Francisco, police said. Often they pulled up in a Jaguar, police said.
Investigators said the two would tell real estate agents that they were willing to buy homes for cash. Chapman would distract the agent while McClung stole wallets and purses, which they used to commit more fraud, police said.
At a recent open-house in Oakland, McClung stole a badge belonging to a former Santa Barbara police officer, police said. On June 10, he appeared at a Kensington real estate office with the badge on his belt, claimed to be an officer moving to the area from San Diego and asked for a listing of all open houses, police said. During the visit, he allegedly stole a wallet.
Virginia Thackwell said Thursday that a man she believed to be McClung and a woman carrying an expensive alligator handbag showed up at her Brannan Street office in San Francisco on May 2. The suspect flashed a Santa Barbara police badge and said his mother wanted to buy a four-bedroom condo for up to $2 million.
Later that day, Thackwell realized that her $600 Prada wallet with her credit cards and $400 in cash had been stolen. Her credit card company told her that someone had used her card at a McDonald’s and a Union Square jewelry store.
“They are really slick,” Thackwell said. “Now I’d like to have revenge. They are awful people. I want them to march down Market Street naked.”
It’s unclear whether Chapman is McClung’s mother.
McClung was arrested on a warrant for failing to appear in a 2004 vandalism case in Pleasanton and for probation violations. Both were also booked on numerous other warrants for crimes including fraud and petty theft, Hester said.
E-mail Henry K. Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.