Two people suspected of a series of “quick-change” jewelry thefts targeting senior citizens in San Ramon and elsewhere in the Bay Area were detained by police after their car apparently tripped an Automated License Plate Reader, alerting officers to their presence.
Police detained the suspects during a traffic stop at Crow Canyon Road and Reedland Circle around 3:15 p.m. Monday after detectives developed a lead stemming from another San Ramon theft that took place on Sunday (January 16, 2022). During that incident, the female suspect called a 74-year-old woman over toward her vehicle and placed costume jewelry on the victim. When the victim refused the items, the suspect removed a valuable piece of jewelry and left the decoy jewelry behind.
During yesterday’s traffic stop, Officers contacted Alex Ghiocel, 24, and Elena Gunici, 21, of Fullerton inside the vehicle along with their two-year-old child. Following the officer’s investigation, Ghiocel and Gunici were arrested and booked on multiple felony charges, including Grand Theft (Penal Code 487), Theft from an Elder/Dependent Adult (Penal Code 368(d)(1)), and Conspiracy to Commit a Crime (Penal Code 182(a)(1)).
The child was subsequently released to a family member.
Ghiocel and Gunici have been positively identified by at least one San Ramon victim, and Detectives are working on their connection to previous San Ramon cases.
This is the tenth “quick-change” style jewelry theft reported to the San Ramon Police Department since late November of 2021. In every case, a female suspect approached an elderly victim (between 60 and 86 years old) who was outside and often alone. The suspects used confusion and sleight-of-hand techniques to remove the victim’s jewelry before fleeing in a waiting vehicle.