Woman stole credit cards and checkbooks from wildfire victims: Police

A Petaluma, California, woman was arrested Monday for allegedly stealing money from wildfire victims.

According to the Petaluma Argus-Courier, police arrested Katie Lehnhard, 31, on suspicion of mail theft and fraud. Lehnard’s victims are reportedly evacuees from Santa Rosa fires who are in shelters in Petaluma.

SFGate reported that a fire victim informed police of fraudulent charges made to her bank account. From there, officers linked a canceled check to Lehnhard, who had an open warrant and is on probation.

READ More: Roommates record harrowing escape from California wildfire [Video]

While carrying out a search pursuant to her probation, officers located personal identification information, credit cards, and checkbooks belonging to multiple Santa Rosa fire victims and Petaluma residents, according to the Argus-Courier.

In addition to the alleged mail theft, authorities believe Lehnhard also took property from vehicles—some of which were abandoned in burned-down neighborhoods.

Lehnhard was booked into Sonoma County Jail. Sonoma County’s Chief Public Defender Lynne Stark-Slater told KCRA that it’s unclear if she’s been officially charged since Sonoma County Superior Court was closed due to fires.

Authorities said they’re currently working to locate more people who fell victim to Lehnhard and calculate how much she possibly made off with.

The Petaluma Police Department recommended residents who lost their home to contact the United States Postal Service to redirect their mail. Additionally, they instructed affected individuals to be diligent in protecting personal information spared from fires and to keep their cars locked at all times.


[Featured Image: Petaluma Police Department]