Operation Bogus Burglary. Photo courtesy of California Department of Insurance
Operation Bogus Burglary. Photo courtesy of California Department of Insurance

A state crackdown on insurance fraud in the San Diego area resulted in six arrests this week, authorities reported Friday.

The suspects, who were taken into custody Wednesday, are expected to face a variety of charges, including grand theft, filing a fraudulent insurance claim and submitting false documents in support of a false claim, according to the California Department of Insurance.

The enforcement effort, dubbed Operation Bogus Burglary, focused on staged property theft, a fast-growing crime trend in both homeowner and renter insurance.

“The temptation to pad or exaggerate an insurance claim is attractive to some people, but these are not victimless crimes,” California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said. “We all pay for insurance fraud through higher premiums.”

The following suspects were arrested during the sweep:

  • Angel Rzeslawski, 47, of Chula Vista, who filed a suspicious claim for over $40,000 for various supposedly stolen valuables, including a $26,000 Rolex watch, a $6,000 ring and a laptop computer, according to the CDI. Rzeslawski claimed that the items went missing from his vehicle during a visit to his gym, but records from the fitness center did not place him there on the day of the alleged theft, according to investigators.
  • Revan Qajar, 26, of El Cajon, who reported a burglary at his photography studio and submitted a  claim for the purported theft of his camera equipment and computers worth $26,200. An investigating police officer noted in his initial report that the broken window the thief supposedly used to into the suspect’s shop was too small for an average adult to enter through, had sharp jagged pieces of glass still in the frame and bore no blood or torn clothing material.
  • Javier Jimenez, 38, of Imperial Beach, who took out a condominium insurance policy last August and reported a burglary two days later. Jimenez’s insurance claim totaled $5,411 and included a 50-inch television, a microwave oven, a Panasonic Toughbook and a safe with $200 in cash. The suspect provided receipts that allegedly turned out to be phony.
  • Stephen Niceler, 39, and Joanna Yeary, 38, of Chula Vista, who allegedly conspired to purchase renters’ insurance in August and then filed a false burglary claim for fraudulent loss of cash and jewelry valued at $1,625.
  • Christopher Minnehan, 41, of San Diego, who is accused of filing claims for the same purported loss of an iPhone and an iMac computer four separate times to three insurance companies. Minnehan’s alleged false claims spanned three years and were revealed when one of the insurers ran a loss history on Minnehan and discovered the suspicious activity.

If convicted, the suspects could face up to five years in state prison for each violation, plus fines and restitution.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the cases.

— City News Service