Two men have been charged in connection with mail theft, passing counterfeit money and other theft-related crimes after police caught them making purchases with fake cash at a Hercules convenience store, Hercules police said. Police said Contra Costa County prosecutors this week charged Martinez resident Justin Reed Conlon, 27, with seven counts of possession of stolen property for allegedly stealing mail from five counties. An associate, 25-year-old Brandon Thomas-Harris, was charged with one count of second-degree burglary for allegedly passing fake $20 bills at a convenience store on Tuesday, police said.
Officers first located the two suspects next to a Cigarettes Cheaper store in the 1500 block of Sycamore Avenue around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday after receiving a report that two males were attempting to make a purchase there using counterfeit cash, police said. Police identified the two men and learned that Conlon had a $25,000 arrest warrant for possession of stolen property out of Napa County. Officers also determined that Thomas-Harris was in possession of three counterfeit $20 bills, had used fake money to buy items at Cigarettes Cheaper and attempted to make another purchase using fraudulent cash.
A search of a vehicle associated with the two suspects turned up two large suitcases containing a large stash of mail and various documents. Some of the mail recovered came from at least 25 Hercules addresses, and police were able to confirm that the mail had been stolen from several of the residents. Further investigation revealed that the suitcases contained stolen mail from 19 additional cities from Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Alameda and Los Angeles counties.
On Wednesday, police arrested three additional suspects associated with the first two suspects. Officers located two men and one woman at the residence and found what appeared to be illegal narcotics, stolen property and cash. Police arrested Hercules residents Paul Pena, 36, Carlos Rivera, 63, and Silvia Solorzano, 54, on suspicion of possession of stolen property, drug possession and drug possession for sales, according to police. Those three suspects had not been charged as of Friday. All five suspects were taken to jail.
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