On Saturday, August 3, Joy Lomax (not her real name) was at her rental property in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. She was doing a final cleaning of the home on Lake Drive, preparing to turn over the keys to a new tenant the next day,
Having finished loading up her car, she went back into the house for a few minutes, sitting her purse down inside, to the left of the opened front door. When she walked back from the kitchen, her purse was gone.
In disbelief, she checked inside her car, having left the driver’s side front door open while she had run back inside the house. She checked upstairs and downstairs, in the backyard, and in the garage. A neighbor also helped search. Others walked blocks in each direction, checking the bushes to see if the purse had been discarded.
She had to call her family members for help because the keys to her car and house were in her purse. A sheriff’s deputy arrived and took a report. Inside her purse were all her IDs, credit cards, and checkbooks. The crook now knew where she lived.
When she arrived back to her Mira Mesa home, Lomax started calling the credit-card companies and banks. Even though she reported the loss on the evening of August 3, the thief was able to use Lomax’s Visa card to purchase gas at a San Marcos Shell station at 1:21 a.m. the next morning.
Later, at 4:30 a.m., presumably the thief charged a large quantity of merchandise at a Walmart in San Marcos. At 6:42 a.m., his credit card purchases were declined at a Vista Walmart.
Several days later, someone deposited three of Lomax’s checks into an ATM — one for $400 and two for $375 each. Encinitas sheriff’s department detective Karen Stone said the checks were made out to a “Nickolas Rambo” and endorsed with his name on the back. Lomax confirmed she did not know anyone by that name.
Over the months, Det. Stone kept Lomax up to date and said they had good evidence on the perpetrators. There was a woman accomplice involved, too. Lomax assumes the video cameras at the ATM helped ID the suspects.
In early October, Det. Stone indicated that they were going to arrest Nickolas A. Rambo when he appeared in court on a different charge. Rambo never showed up to court that day. He was later arrested on October 16 and remained in custody.
Lomax was warned by the detective that the unidentified female suspect involved in the theft may have stated that she will "go back to the source.” Lomax was cautioned to lock all her doors and windows.
On November 26, in Department 6 of the North County courthouse, judge Kimberley A. Lagotta sentenced 22-year-old Rambo, who appeared in handcuffs, dressed in a light-colored sport jacket, to three years’ probation and 120 days in jail. Rambo will also have to pay restitution of $885 in damages to Lomax (in the amount of $25 a month). The court also assessed fines of $874.
The sentence stipulated that Wells Fargo and Bank of America may also claim damages and restitution at a later date.
Lomax was in the courtroom when the sentence was handed down. The assistant district attorney spoke on her behalf to the judge, indicating that the incident turned Lomax’s life upside down. Lomax’s statement said she thought Rambo should have received more time in jail, especially in light of the fact that Rambo may have committed other crimes for which he didn’t show up in court for initially.
With 40 days already served in custody and a 100 percent credit for good behavior, Rambo is expected to be out in less than three weeks.
Not in enough time, however, to attend the arraignment of his accomplice, who was later identified and arrested.
Alyssa A. Lindemann, 28, has been charged with possession of Lomax's stolen property. Lindemann’s arraignment is scheduled for December 4. Lomax has been asked to appear in court to testify.