Sheriff’s investigators may have broken a major regional crime spree. Three Twentynine Palms residents were arrested Tuesday, accused of stealing merchandise and attempting to return it for a refund. According to the Sheriff’s Department, Suzanne Torres, 32, Patrick Wunderlee, 30, and Scott Downen, 61, went to the Food for Less in Yucca Valley about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night.
Store security personnel watched as Torres and Downen stole several items from the grocery store. Once outside, Torres and Downen are accused of giving the merchandise to Wunderlee, who then brought the merchandise back in to the store with a fake receipt to get a cash refund. When store personnel confronted them, all three suspects fled. After an investigation, detectives identified the three suspects, whom they believe are also responsible for stealing thousands of dollars of merchandise from stores such as Walmart, Food for Less, Home Depot, Big Lots, and Rite-Aid, in Beaumont, Banning, Twentynine Palms, and Yucca Valley. Suzanne Torres, Patrick Wunderlee, and Scott Downen were arrested for investigation of burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime and booked at the Morongo Basin Jail. Their bail ranges from $25,000 to $60,000 each. Booking photos of Suzanne Torres and Scott Downen can be seen with this story at z1077fm.com. Anyone with information about the suspects, or businesses who may have been targeted by the suspects, should call Deputy Jacob Naylor at the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.