FPD Busts Identity Thief On Tip From Alert Victim & Persistent Son

An identity thief who has had success in San Bernardino County and Los Angeles County by confronting unsuspecting citizens while impersonating a law enforcement officer and then using an electronic device to capture personal data from the identification produced by his victims has been collared by members of the Fontana Police Department’s Multiple Enforcement Team.
Brian Hutchins appears to have obtained personal information on as many as several hundred people in Southern California. The degree to which he put that information to use in cleaning out the bank accounts of those whose identities he stole or utilized his victim’s credit accounts to make unauthorized purchases is publicly unknown at this point. Several Southern California law enforcement agencies are at work attempting to piece together the degree to which Hutchins’ operation extended.
Hutchins appears to have been able to elude capture for some time by maintaining a relatively low profile and by relocating from place to place. Over the last several years, he has lived variously in Victorville, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Adelanto, Highland, Fontana, Bloomington and Colton. His mode of operation has been variously described as “brilliant… daring… simple… and sophisticated.” Nevertheless, Hutchins used his own name in carrying out his impersonations, doing so in his security officer uniform, which was his main prop. That consideration and others, including that he did not appear to have a badge or other identifying credentials as a law enforcement officer or even calling cards, is perhaps an indication that the ruse Hutchins was engaged in was one of desperation rather than a well-planned and thought-through undertaking. Some have suggested that his boldness in carrying off his impersonations and information thefts were less an indication of criminal skill than a reflection of mental illness. Indeed, there is something to indicate that Hutchins may have gotten away with what he did because his action was so unorthodox, his behavior so dodgy, his appearance as a law enforcement officer so convincing and the performance of the law enforcement agencies in the jurisdiction where he functioned so unfocused.
What the Sentinel has learned about Hutchins is this:
He favored women over men as victims. He had access to some basic information about those he victimized, in particular their full names and residence or general whereabouts. Typically, he carried with him a laptop computer and would approach the women, who were usually alone at home or at work. He would then aggressively confront them, in the manner of a police officer, using each woman’s first and middle name but assigning her a different last name. When the woman would acknowledge her first and middle names but deny the last name Hutchins had selected for her, he would again, presuming upon the air of authority he had enveloped himself in, suggest that that the name the woman had given was an alias, demanding identification. In multiple cases the individuals complied with the demand, oftentimes producing driver licenses and even further documentation such as a credit cards or social security cards when Hutchins suggested that the driver licenses were forgeries.
Investigators believe Hutchins used the camera on his laptop or perhaps a scanning device within it to to photograph the identification provided to him or to pull data off of the driver licenses’ or credit cards’ magnetic strips.
After engaging in some further questioning, Hutchins would accept the victim’s assertion that she was not the person he had identified, and state his inquiry might have grown out of a simple misunderstanding because of the identical first and middle names of the victim and the individual Hutchins purported to be a person of interest in his “investigation.” Shortly thereafter, he would make his exit, armed, in most cases, with the personal information he had come to retrieve.
Hutchins was undone earlier this month when he approached a woman at her residence in the unincorporated west Fontana area.
There is evidence to suggest Hutchins was calculating in choosing his victims on the basis of where they lived. It seems he avoided carrying out his grift against those residing in cities which had police departments. Instead, Hutchins would target those who lived in unincorporated county areas in either San Bernardino County or Los Angeles County that were patrolled by the sheriff’s department or in cities in either county which contracted with the sheriff’s department for law enforcement services. His apparent belief was that neither sheriff’s department could be counted upon to be diligent and vigilant with regard to the type of nonviolent criminality he was engaged in.
If indeed that was the case, Hutchins’ calculation was correct. Unfortunately for him, despite the crime he engaged in having occurred within the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s bailiwick, the Fontana Police Department took an interest in the case when the matter was reported to it first.
The victim informed members of her family about the encounter with Hutchins. His approach to the home and his presence on its porch was captured by a security camera. Moreover, the victim, though she had been cozened into believing that she was dealing with a bona fide police officer while Hutchins was present and was intimidated by the implied threat of arrest that might follow if she did not establish her identity as being different from the woman Hutchins said he believed her to be, yet had the presence of mind to remember that his uniform bore his first initial and last name – B Hutchins. The woman’s grown son, assessing the situation, contacted the Fontana Police Department. A member of the Multiple Enforcement Team was immediately struck by the nature of what had occurred and sensed that the individual in question was likely not a law enforcement officer as he had maintained, and was quite likely fishing for personal information that was going to be put to some questionable or illegal purpose. Alas, the officer said, protocol dictated that the matter would have to be taken up by the sheriff’s department, which has jurisdiction in the unincorporated county area of Fontana.
The victim and her son went to the sheriff’s department to make a crime report. The sheriff’s department, however, was unwilling to rush to the assumption that the individual who confronted the victim was not an investigator with some agency or other, and was unwilling to take a crime report. Upon the insistence of the victim’s son, however, a sheriff’s deputy did write an incident report.
The sheriff’s department’s interest in the case ended there, with no further investigation.
Back at the Fontana Police Department, however, members of the Multiple Enforcement Team, intrigued by what had been reported to them, ran a check on B. Hutchins. A number of matches to the first initial and last name came back, but only a limited number in the Fontana area. Brian Hutchins, a parolee who had been convicted in 1997 for PC 459, felony burglary, for which he had been given a sentence of two years and eight months and convicted in 2011 of 451(B), felony arson of an inhabited structure, for which he had been given a sentence of ten years, was living in Fontana.
Convinced that the sheriff’s department was not going to act but equally convinced there was something to what the victim had experienced in her interaction with Hutchins, the Multiple Enforcement Team utilized its department’s access to Ring camera videos, security camera footage that offers constant surveillance of house entrances, in most cases front porches and front doors. The police department was  able to utilize the sheriff’s department incident report and the evidence it had developed to obtain a warrant, with which it initiated surveillance of Hutchins. That surveillance provided the team with grounds to arrest Hutchins, who was taken into custody at his home.
At the time of his arrest, investigators – real ones – seized his laptop. A forensic examination of that device determined the laptop’s hard drive contained evidence showing multiple victims from San Bernardino County and Los Angeles County had their personal information stolen by Hutchins. He was booked on identity theft and a parole hold.
It is possible that the uniform Hutchins used was one he wore while working as a security guard at the Oasis Night Club. He did not have a badge nor any credentials in his possession that purported him as a police officer.
Hutchins has not yet been charged by the district attorney’s office with any crime. Investigators are still working to determine which and how many of his victims suffered monetary losses as a consequence of Hutchins’ possession of their personal information, and whether he was working alone or networking with others.

Leave a Reply