Two Charged in Theft of Purse, Baby Toys of 'Sentimental Value'

Two people are in police custody facing charges including burglary and identity theft in connection with a purse stolen from the women's locker room at the LA Fitness in Murrieta last month, police said today.

The purse contained the victim's identification, credit cards and other miscellaneous property. In addition to those items, the purse contained several baby toys that belonged to the victim's baby "Timothy", who died unexpectedly in 2013. The baby toys held sentimental value for the victim.

Amanda Sander, 30, of Diamond Bar is charged with fraudulent use of an access card, burglary, possession of stolen property and identity theft. Investigators in the case located her in Los Angeles County Jail, where she was in custody on unrelated charges.

Romulo Castaneda, 49, of Chino Hills was charged with fraudulent use of an access card, burglary and identity theft. He was located at a hotel in Chino Hills and was arrested without incident.

The theft at the health club, located at 40985 California Oaks Road, resulted in an investigation that led detectives to several retail outlets in Temecula where the stolen credit cards were used. Surveillance photos of the suspects were released to the public in an attempt to identify the suspects.

Through several anonymous tips and additional investigative leads, the suspects were identified as Sander and Castaneda.

Sander was interviewed in jail on April 14 but refused to cooperate with the investigation. The victim's purse was located the same day in the possession of an associate of Sander. The purse was recovered by detectives and the associate was determined to be uninvolved in the case. The purse was returned to the victim, but the toys were not recovered.

Castaneda was transported back to Murrieta PD for questioning on April 17. Although Castaneda gave a statement, he was unable to give detectives the location of the toys.

Castaneda was booked at the Southwest Detention Center. Any other information related to this case should be directed to Detective Jeremy Durrant at 951-461-6354.


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