Police in Berkeley, Calif., reported today that a couple has been arrested as suspects in a cross-country theft spree that targeted real estate agents, their offices, and open houses.
Paul McClung, 30, and Carol Ann Chapman, 59, were arrested in Missouri, police reported today. The duo, dubbed “Open House Bandits” by a television news station, allegedly told real estate agents that they were mother and son and that they sought to pay cash for homes. Berkeley Police Lt. Wes Hester confirmed the couple’s arrest.
Berkeley Police reported last week that the woman would distract the real estate agent while the man allegedly would “prowl the home or office for purses and wallets to steal.” The pair allegedly used stolen identification and credit cards “to commit additional fraud and theft,” and rented vehicles that they did not return, according to the police announcement, and the man reportedly had used a stolen badge to impersonate a police officer.
While the couple had been active in several San Francisco Bay Area cities, including Oakland, Piedmont, Kensington, Fremont, Newark and San Francisco, and had been seen at San Francisco-area open houses as recently as June 16 and June 17, law enforcement agencies reported that the couple had moved on to other markets.
An Inman News reader reported this week that the suspects were spotted in Park City, Utah, and a RE/MAX Mid-States Region official said Thursday that the suspects were active in Kansas and Missouri on Wednesday.
The Park City Board of Realtors in Utah and Columbia Board of Realtors in Missouri were among the Realtor associations that issued alerts to members about the suspects.
Carol S. Van Gorp, CEO for the Columbia Board of Realtors, forwarded an alert from a RE/MAX regional office, which stated that a couple reporting to be a mother and son visited a RE/MAX office in Salina, Kan., at about 1:30 p.m. on June 26, and the couple arrived in a black Hummer with Utah license plates. “The mom and son were taken into an agent’s office, where soon the agent had to leave the room to make copies. While she was doing this, the son stole the agent’s credit card out of her purse. The mom and son said they were going to lunch and be back in an hour, but they never returned,” according to the notice.
The RE/MAX official also stated, “We had three of our RE/MAX offices hit in two different states yesterday.”
A police official in Salina said that the couple had been arrested by state Highway Patrol officers in Missouri, though Highway Patrol officials provided no details about the arrests.
People with information about the suspects can call Berkeley Police at (510) 981-5737.
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