Van Nuys: Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Van Nuys Division have arrested a man wanted for staging multiple traffic collisions in the San Fernando Valley and Mid-City areas. Investigators surmise there may be additional victims of the staged accidents and are asking victims to contact police.
During the investigation, detectives learned that suspect David Stevens would randomly wave down elderly victims and accuse them of hitting his car. Although there was no evidence of traffic collision damage on the victims’ vehicles, the suspect would state that he would not report the traffic collision to police or the Department of Motor Vehicles if the victim would pay for the alleged repairs on his car.
The suspect pretended to call a mechanic who gave him a quote over the phone. The suspect then told his elderly victims the quoted amount to fix his vehicle and followed them to their bank or nearby ATM so they could withdraw cash to pay for the repairs. In some cases, the suspect followed the victims home to collect the requested funds. Once the initial payment is made, the suspect would repeatedly return to their home to demand more money.
Using fear as a tactic to get money from the victims, the suspect would remind them that if he were to report the traffic collision, they could lose their driver's license due to their age. Preying on the victims’ distress, the victims complied with the suspect’s demands and paid whatever amount Stevens demanded. In some cases, the victim’s withdrew their entire savings account.
Stevens, arrested yesterday about 6:15 p.m. at his home on Elmwood Drive in Los Angeles, is a 42-year-old white male with black hair, brown eyes and a thin mustache. He stands 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs approximately 320 pounds. During the staged traffic collisions, the suspect drove a 1997 brown Chevrolet SUV with license plates 3WVA498 or 7CDG659. A photo of Stevens is included with this release to assist any additional victims in coming forward. He’s been booked for grand theft, felony stalking, elder abuse and burglary, and his bail has been set at $1.25 million.
Anyone with information or who may have been a victim or witness to these crimes is urged to call Van Nuys Division Detective Marjan Mobasser at (818) 374-0053. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to www.LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.