Rachelle Lionor Olivaz

SAFFORD — A woman accused of stealing a debit card from an elderly woman as she shopped at Walmart and draining her bank account has been caught by Safford investigators.

Rachelle Lionor Olivaz, 24, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Jail on Dec. 29 on four counts of theft of a credit card, four counts of forgery of a credit card, four counts of theft and is looking at pending additional charges, according to Safford Police Chief Joe Brugman.

The charges against Olivaz stem from an incident Dec. 23 at Walmart at 755 S. 20th Ave. when a woman reported she could not find her wallet when she was leaving the store. The woman’s purse was still in her possession, but her wallet was missing, presumably taken from the purse while it was in the cart when the victim’s attention was elsewhere.

The wallet was located and returned to the victim within the hour, but she noticed her bank debit card was missing, according to Brugman. Soon, the victim learned someone had used her debit card to make six purchases at a variety of businesses that day. The purchases totaled $757.59 and effectively wiped out her account two days before Christmas, leaving the victim and her husband virtually penniless.

Safford investigators retrieved surveillance video from stores where the debit card was used and retrieved images of Olivaz making the purchases with two young children by her side. According to online court records, Olivaz has petitioned three separate men for child support in the last three years.

After being arrested, Olivaz allegedly admitted to finding the debit card and making the purchases. She was then booked into the jail.

“I commend the work being done by all of our police staff,” Brugman said. “This case is an example of excellent performance and teamwork by our officers and detectives.”

Brugman encourages the community to remain vigilant in making sure items such as purses or wallets are secure when one is in public.

“The vast majority of the crimes we see are those of opportunity — as in this case — leaving unsecured items in a shopping cart such as purses, wallets or phones,” Brugman said. “Additionally, please remember to lock your car doors. Criminals take advantage of the chance to enter vehicles when doors are left unlocked.”

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