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Ventura County Sheriff's Office
Monday September 9th, 2019 :: 01:30 p.m. PDT


South American Pickpocket Group

Nature of Incident: South American Pickpocket Group Successful Prosecution
Report Number: 17-135249
Location: Thousand Oaks
Date & Time: September 2017 -  August 22, 2019
Unit Responsible: Thousand Oaks Police Investigations Bureau
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (P)arty, (D)ecedent

City of Residence

Jennifer Mercedes Garcia Huapaya
Ashley Christina Botteri
Los Angeles
Los Angeles
In September of 2017, the city of Thousand Oaks had an increase in wallet thefts occurring at local retailers. The Thousand Oaks Investigations Bureau began an investigation into a group of wallet thieves.
Over the course of several months, Detectives from the Thousand Oaks Police Investigations Bureau worked diligently to identify several of the suspects within the group, including Jennifer Huapaya and Ashley Botteri, who were both identified as working with an organized group of traveling South American pickpocket crews.  Detectives discovered they were responsible for several of these crimes.
Investigator’s learned they operated in California and travelled to several other states targeting primarily elderly females. They worked in concert by removing women’s wallets from their purses while hanging over the back of chairs while seated in restaurants and coffee houses.  They also used distraction techniques while in grocery stores to remove wallets from purses inside grocery carts. 
Once Huapaya and Botteri stole the wallets, they would immediately use the credit cards for fraudulent purchases of gift cards and high end merchandise at nearby retails stores.   They also laundered the gift cards and high end merchandise through a fence to obtain the funds from the thefts. 
In May of 2018, Detectives obtained arrest warrants for Huapaya and Botteri, along with other individuals in the group for multiple charges.  In September of 2018, Botteri was located living in Los Angeles County and was arrested during a search warrant at her residence.
In March of 2019, Huapaya was transferred into the custody of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office for the warrant after serving time elsewhere for similar charges.  Huapaya and Botteri remained in custody in Ventura County while they awaited court proceedings. 
On April 4, 2019, Huapaya and Botteri pleaded guilty to multiple counts of identity theft, burglary, and elder abuse. 
On May 2, 2019, Huapaya was sentenced to four years in prison, to be served consecutive with an additional three years sentence she received in Los Angeles County. 
On August 22, 2019, Botteri was sentenced to seven years in prison. 
Prepared by: Detective Paul Ferruzza  
Media Release Date: September 9,  2019  
Media Follow-Up Contact: Detective Paul Ferruzza (805) 947-8286
 [email protected]
Approved by: Captain Denise Sliva  
Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime.  The caller may remain anonymous.  The call is not recorded.  Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

Ventura County Sheriff's Office
800 S Victoria Ave
Ventura, CA 93003

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 805-654-9511

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