National City police are searching for a man accused of an elaborate identity theft scheme and felony child endangerment.
According to detectives, the suspect stole and assumed the identity of a man named Benjamin McClarnon, working two jobs, making large purchases and even committing crimes under the stolen, assumed name.
Investigators said the man worked under the ID at Rent-a -Wheel in Chula Vista and Cox Cable in San Diego. He obtained a DMV driver’s license, bought everything from a car to diamonds and paid utility bills under the name "Benjamin McClarnon."
Police said the man went well beyond simply stealing someone’s identity.
“He’s actually become the victim. He’s actually gone out and gotten two jobs in San Diego County as the victim, [using the] victim’s name, victim’s social security number, victim’s address,” said Tom Di Zinno with the National City Police Department.
Police said the suspect assumed the stolen identity for about seven months, from May through November 2012. He even changed his facial hair and weight to resemble the ID theft victim, who actually knew the suspect.
“[The ID theft victim] rented a room at a house where our suspect actually lived and his girlfriend lived there. So I'm assuming that that's where the compromise took place,” explained Di Zinno.
The phony Benjamin McClarnon worked for a short time for Cox Communications through a temporary employment agency, according to investigators. He also allegedly worked at Rent-a-Wheel in Chula Vista, though current employees told NBC 7 Thursday they did not recognize the suspect in photos.
Police said he was eventually dismissed from both jobs.
Recently, the suspect expanded his range of criminal activity by using two young children to shoplift, investigators said.
In that instance, police said the suspect used his girlfriend’s 10-year-old and 6-year-old children to steal merchandise from a JCPenney store in Plaza Bonita while he waited in the car. When the kids were caught, the suspect drove off, leaving them behind.
The children’s mother was also there and she was arrested. For whatever reason, she’s not cooperating with the investigation, police said.
Although the suspect hasn’t been seen since the shoplifting attempt, police believe the fake McClarnon’s luck might soon run out.
A surveillance camera near the JCPenney store caught the suspect on tape, so now investigators have something to go on.
Police describe the suspect as an adult Hispanic male, 6 feet tall, approximately 250 to 290 pounds. He has a shaved head, black hair, brown eyes, an earring in his right ear and may have a goatee.
Detectives believe the man may be trying to cover up additional crimes.
“Why is he hiding himself? [Has he committed] a capital crime that he’s trying to hide himself from? That may very well be a possibility,” said Di Zinno.
Anyone with information on the suspect pictured above is urged to contact Di Zinno with the National City Police Department at (619) 336-4473 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.