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Identity theft leads to 2 arrests in Newport

November 21, 2002

Deepa Bharath

After what turned out to be a complex investigation, Newport Beach

Police detectives pieced together a case of identity theft that led

to the arrest of two men Nov. 14, officials said.

Police arrested Greg Crandall Colbert, 48, of Palm Desert and Hank

Dexter, 54, of Palm Springs on suspicion of using stolen credit cards

to buy golf equipment worth more than $4,000, Sgt. Steve Shulman

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said.

The investigation began when detectives looked into a vehicle

burglary at the Newport Beach Country Club on Nov. 2, he said. The

credit cards and checks reported stolen in that burglary were used in

Santa Monica, where the suspects reportedly bought the golf

equipment. The person who sold the equipment became suspicious of the

duo's lavish purchase and jotted down the license plate number of

their car, Shulman said.

Detectives found out that the car was registered to a rental

agency in Riverside County, he said. They also learned that Colbert,

who had rented the car, had actually been arrested by Costa Mesa

Police at one point, but he gave officers a different name and then

was bailed out before his fingerprints could reveal his true

identity. Later, it was discovered that the car Colbert was driving

when Costa Mesa Police arrested him had also been stolen, Shulman

said.

Before the Costa Mesa arrest, though, the suspects had made

several purchases with the stolen checks and credit cards at several

locations throughout Southern California, he said.

Police, who alerted several country clubs about the fraud,

received a call from a Newport Beach golf club identifying Colbert as

someone who had been shopping at that store. Store employees called

the police when Colbert showed up again on Nov. 14.

Colbert and Dexter admitted to committing all of the crimes known

at the time of their arrest, as well as others that had not been

discovered, including an auto theft and another burglary, Shulman

said. Detectives found a hotel room in Palm Springs rented by the

suspects -- using stolen identities -- where they recovered a stolen

vehicle and more stolen property, he said.

Shulman said Colbert had a pending warrant from the Los Angeles

Sheriff's Department in Lakewood. Colbert will eventually be

extradited to Arizona, he said.

The suspects were booked for burglary and taken to Newport Beach

city jail. Dexter is being held in lieu of $10,000 bail, and Colbert

is being held without bail.

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