A man and woman from Omaha are jailed in central Iowa on charges including drug possession, auto theft and stealing mail. Thirty-eight-year-old Shawn Joseph DeVaney and 17-year-old Loretta Mary Pena were arrested with a stolen pickup with stolen license plates, and police charge that they also had drugs and fake I.D. cards in their hotel room.
Urbandale Police Sergeant Dave Disney says they got a tip from postal inspectors that the couple might be operating in the Des Moines area. Disney says they’re well-known to law enforcement in the Omaha and Council Bluffs area, and one might even have been listed in the “Metro’s Most Wanted” last month. After Urbandale police got the alert, they spotted a vehicle allegedly stolen by the couple and that’s when local investigators got involved.
The sergeant says apparently the two had traveled between Omaha and Des Moines several times in recent weeks before they were found and arrested at a local hotel. He says they’re accused of stealing mail, not looking for money in the envelopes but to get the credit and account information of other people. He says they’d take a stolen check and make a “split deposit,” pretending to put money into a real account using that person’s account information, and collect some cash back on the deposit. He says the investigators have linked them to a wide array of other tactics including forgery.
The Postal Inspector’s office from Omaha alerted local cops, and having the information while they were out on the street helped break the case. It’ll take a while to “clean up” all the details of the case involving two major cities, and perhaps others as well. The sergeant says there are signs they made other stops between Des Moines and Omaha, though in cases like forgery and “paper crimes” he says they run deep and it’ll take quite some time to figure it all out. The 17-year-old is being held as a juvenile, the man on more than 300-thousand dollars bond, and police say as the investigation continues there are likely to be more charges.