Success Story: Woman Captures Her Own Identity Thief

Readers alerted us to a great story in today’s San Francisco Chronicle. A woman who lost $30,000 in business and six months of her life to a local identity thief captured her tormentor… on foot.

Karen Lodrick’s mail had been stolen in November 2006 by a neighborhood con named Maria Nelson. Nelson subsequently withdrew thousands of dollars from Lodrick’s bank accounts. Even after Lodrick created another bank account, the thief again stole her mail and raided the new account.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Having seen a Wells Fargo surveillance video of the thief carrying a “light-brown suede coat,” Lodrick recognized the coat and the woman standing behind her in line at a Starbuck’s. After dialing 911, Lodrick followed Nelson through the San Francisco streets, eventually having to run after her when Nelson realized something was up. The chase included Lodrick practically blocking Nelson’s cab from driving off– the driver threw up his hands in surrender and Nelson fled again, knowing that whatever was happening, her probation was definitely in jeopardy.

The only letdown in this story is, of course, when the justice system gets involved. Despite chastising the convict, who was indeed on probation, for rudeness toward the victim in court, the judge sentenced Nelson only to time served and another three years of probation. Lodrick, needless to say, is pretty pissed. —BRIAN FAIRBANKS

How victim snared identity thief [SF Gate]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Wow that pisses me off. There is no justice in this world.

  2. Wormfather says:

    Remember kids, crime doesnt…this just in, crime pays, and well, plus dental.

  3. Sam Glover says:

    I’ve been observing that the justice system is currently in a state of flux with respect to identity theft and similar crimes. They feel “civil” so the criminal system is reluctant to get involved. That, and they are often complicated as compared to a “regular” crime like a burglary.

    I think the only way for the justice system to start treating identity thieves, equity strippers, and predatory lenders like the criminals they are is to start enforcing criminal laws against those actions (if they exist in your state) in the ways they were intended to be enforced.

  4. mopar_man says:

    I think I would be looking for a mob connection to get Vinny to take care of her. That’s bullshit. There needs to be more judges like this guy.

  5. Pelagius says:

    Meanwhile, a hausfrau in Virginia with no criminal record is doing 2 1/2 years hard time for letting her 16 year old son and his friends drink beer at a chaperoned birthday party.

    Can the victim pursue civil charges?

  6. ShadowFalls says:

    Wow, that judge was ridiculously lenient. Tampering with US mail is a federal offense, let us not forget what she proceeded to do with said mail as well. She needs to take her to civil court as well. Her guilt has already been proven.

  7. Pelagius says:

    Also, isn’t it a federal crime to tamper with mail? Perhaps the federal prosecutor is too busy pursuing investigations of Democratic congressmen to bother..

  8. Youthier says:

    Wow, Friends is just like real life!

  9. ChrisC1234 says:

    Wow… If I would’ve caught someone who had stolen my identity, I would’ve beat the living daylights out of them. Now ordinarily, I’m NOT a violent person, but I would have no mercy on someone like that.

  10. harumph says:

    @missbrooke06: except real life has black people in it.

  11. Black Bellamy says:

    @Pelagius: Can the victim pursue civil charges?

    Good luck suing a scam artist like that. She’s probably indigent even with all those thefts.

  12. Optimistic Prime says:

    Remember kids, we should be more worried of IP than actual property… Our judicial/ justice system is pretty damned ate up.

  13. Hawk07 says:

    My whole goal in life is to live in that Progressive city because the conservatives won’t be able to do any harm to me and citzens love citizens.

    After all, we need to show compassion and understanding to the identity thief. It’s not fair that someone else is making more money than her. Really, it all came down to the identity thief’s terrible childhood.

  14. Wormfather says:

    @harumph: As a black person I find that to be extremely offensive.

    With that being said ROFLMAO!

  15. Wormfather says:

    @Pelagius: Nice touch with the “Democratic”, yeah, because the republicans have been getting away with EVERYTHING. Libby, Abra…however it’s spelled, etc.

  16. Kurtz says:

    “Karen Lodrick’s mail had been stolen in November 2006, and a neighborhood con named Maria Nelson.” The identity thief was stolen? The copyeditor must be sleeping on the job again.

  17. timmus says:

    Well, what can we learn from this story to protect ourselves?

  18. SactoKev says:

    Good for her! Of course, if she’d detained the woman, she’d be in a world of civil court hurtin’.

    So California liberals, why is it that you keep trying to avoid sentencing non-violent criminals to incarceration?

  19. lore says:

    Can we get Roy Pearson to sue this lady for mental anguish and treble damages? Might amount to $65 million.

  20. jeffj-nj says:

    @SactoKev: I’m not from California, and I’m not sure I would understand the phrasing of the question even if I was, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. Jail costs money. There’s no reason to put this woman in jail. What she should be responsible for is financial restitution, probably in the form of garnished wages. If she has no wages, they could sell her home at auction. Etc, etc.

    But, like I said, I don’t know the real answer. I’m just makin’ this up as I go.

  21. ChrisC1234 says:

    The only things to garnish are probably her paycheck from McDonalds or her welfare check… And you’re probably assuming too much to think she owns a house too.

  22. AnnieGetYourFun says:


    I think placing the thief under citizen arrest would have been lawful.

  23. jeffj-nj says:

    Either way, putting her in jail only costs money, as opposed to generating some, which is what the victim here needs. How would the victim benefit from this woman going to jail? How would anyone?

    I suppose, if repaying her debt would actually be impossible any other way, then yeah, lock her up and have her start pounding license plates for minimum wage. If we (the law abiding citizens) are going to pay to lock her up, then I wanna get something for it. License plates will do. But, then again, wait. I have to pay for those anyway, don’t I? Yeah, that shouldn’t happen.

    But I digress…

    See, locking up a violent offender buys me (a law abiding citizen) something. It buys me physical safety, and that’s worth paying for. One less murderer or rapist on the street? Sounds great. Sign me up. What do I owe you?

    That’s physical safety. But, financial safety, I wouldn’t have to buy (with jail funding) if the state just had my back when I needed it. As in, garnish the wages of anyone who steals from me. It seems logical enough.

    But again, I’m not from California. I really didn’t even know this was a discussion at all. I just did my best to answer a question on the table.

    And, if I’m allowed to digress again, jail costs entirely too much anyway. I don’t understand why jails have to be so big. Why is there a cafeteria? Why is there a yard? Jails should be built like the storage facilities they are, not like motels. Space efficient, and secure. That’s all a jail needs to be. Period.

  24. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Oh yeah, and uh there needs to be legislation to require credit card charges to be posted within 2 hours of the charge occuring. I have a suspicious charge on my chase card, and how the hell am I supposed to file a chargeback if chase refuses to post the damn thing?

  25. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    I mean in a reasonable amount of time.

  26. She should have an Uncle Sal who solves her problem. Like we all should.

  27. PlanetExpressdelivery says:


    The reason why people like Maria Nelson need to be locked up is the overwhelming temptation to committ the same crime again. It’s also important to note that because of the sensitivity of identity theft, what’s to stop a criminal from doing physical damage to the victim or their property?

    The sentencing was overly-lenient considering the fact that the criminal was already on probation, violating her probation, and violating federal law. I’m also interested to know if Nelson has any history with violent crime.

  28. Invisobel says:

    @AngrySicilian: Just when my faith is marginally restored in the justice system after Paris Hilton goes back to jail a story like this comes along.

  29. shdwsclan says:

    Thats why you have to take the law into your own hands in this country………

    You buy a special effects kit, make yourself an awesome true-to-life mask, gloves on the hands, and a common gun, and blow the asshole away, then just dump everything into the airport incinerator…

    By the way….police generally NEVER find the killer, in such a proper murder….
    Going into a browns chicken and blowing everyone away is different…

  30. SactoKev says:

    Democrats in the CA legislature have recently been fighting to revamp sentencing laws and in effect ensure that nonviolent offenders are not incarcerated.
    I’m quite aware of the excessive cost of incarceration. I agree, it is bull%^$*. Vegan meals, virtually unlimited appeals and doctor visits, throw our corrupt guards’ union CA is basically screwed for good.

  31. edjusted says:

    Heard an interview with her on the radio today. Maybe I heard wrong or misunderstood, but she was on the phone with a 911 operator for about 45 mins?

    I realize this is a story about personal heroics and/or the justice system gone wrong…BUT, she put herself in potential danger and possibly misused a resource for *emergencies*.

    Hope no one having a heart attack got a busy signal dialing 911!

  32. Buran says:

    And this is why I get e-bills ONLY.

  33. Rahnee says:

    Our justice system really needs work. Years ago I was the victim of a hit and run by a drunk law officer. He got a $250.00 fine and 3 years unsupervised probation. I got 2 years of therapy and 250Gs of med bills. There is little justice for the working class. I feel sorry for this woman. If I were her I would have taken justice into my own hands and then hired a crack lawyer from Miami to get me acquitted.

  34. snowferret says:

    Fraud, theft of mail, theft of all that money in her bank acount being a tremendous bitch… You’d think that would add up to something? WTF??

  35. jwissick says:

    Judges like that need to be tarred and feathered… then lynched.

  36. When Court Justice fails, there’s always Street Justice….

  37. @harumph: And that’s supposed to mean… what exactly…?

  38. SgtRich says:

    this just in.. 911 hires more than one telephone operator to prevent busy signals.

    that being said, Im with the above, I’d have beaten the hell out of the person. and paid the assault charges. it would be cheaper and more satisfying.