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Residents Charged with Credit-Card Theft

Police believe they're involved with theft of wallet.

In September, a woman's wallet was snatched from her purse while she was shopping in a local grocery store. But Fairfax County police have now arrested two people in connection with that crime.

THEY ARE Oscar Edward Alayo and Tania Libertad Cotrina Nino, both of 14401 Four Chimney Drive in Centreville's Newgate community. Each has been charged with one count of credit-card theft.

In an Oct. 23 affidavit for a warrant to search for possible evidence in their townhouse, Det. Elizabeth Cummings — a financial-crimes detective with the Criminal Investigations Bureau — explained the case against them.

She wrote that, on Sept. 7, a Fairfax County resident reported that someone stole the wallet from her purse while she was in the Giant Foods store on Stone Road in Centreville. Inside her wallet were credit cards in her name, cash, $20 gift cards for Target and Starbucks, her driver's license and personal checks.

The victim was able to determine that her wallet was swiped while she was at the store's pharmacy counter and her purse was left unattended in her cart. However, surveillance video obtained from Giant Foods shows that, just prior to the theft, three people entered the store together.

Cummings identified them as Subjects 1, 2 and 3. She wrote that Subject 1, a white male, was wearing a short-sleeved, black T-shirt with "soccer" in white lettering and what appeared to be the Puma brand insignia on the front.

Subject 2, a white female, wore a light green warm-up jacket with dark blue or black accents and matching warm-up pants in dark blue or black with a light-green stripe down the sides. Subject 3, a white male, wore a T-shirt and shorts.

"Within minutes of entering the store, the video shows all three subjects in the pharmacy area in the location of the victim and the shopping cart containing her purse," wrote Cummings. "While the victim was at the pharmacy counter with her back to the cart, Subject 2 stood between two other shoppers waiting in line at the pharmacy, blocking their view, as Subject 1 reached into the victim's purse and removed the wallet."

THE DETECTIVE noted that all three people then immediately left the store. "A short time later, the victim's Chase Visa credit card was fraudulently used for purchases totaling over $200," she wrote. Cummings stated that one of the transactions was made at the Shopper's Food Warehouse in Centreville.

During the course of this investigation, the detective distributed photos of the three subjects to members of the county police department. As a result, Officer Joseph Clerkin responded to 14401 Four Chimney Drive on Sept. 8 and identified one of the occupants as Nino.

According to Cummings, Clerkin reportedly "positively identified" Alayo as Subject 1 in the Giant Foods photos, and Nino as Subject 2 in those photographs. In addition, she wrote, Officer Adrian Steiding went to the same townhouse on Oct. 9 to take a police report from Nino and noted that Alayo acted as a Spanish-language interpreter for her.

Cummings wrote that Steiding, too, allegedly identified Alayo as Subject 1 in the photos and "recalled a white male inside the townhouse" while he was there on Oct. 9. The detective stated that Steiding later identified this person as Subject 3 in the photos.

Wrote Cummings: "Police records indicate that the Fairfax County Police Department has responded numerous times to 14401 Four Chimney Drive and identified Alayo and Nino — as well as variations of [Nino's] name — as residents."

The detective noted, as well, that a criminal-history check of Alayo shows felony and misdemeanor convictions from three states for charges including: Forging public records, assault and battery, obstructing justice, failure to appear (in court) and conspiracy/fencing. He also received a revocation of a suspended sentence and probation.

Nino — also known as Tania Nino Cotrino, Tana Cotrino Nino, Tania Cotrina and Tania Libertad — has a misdemeanor conviction for public swearing or intoxication.

Cummings hoped a search of the couple's home would yield stolen property — including the victim's wallet, credit cards and driver's license — plus records and receipts for purchases made with the victim's credit cards. She also sought any items of clothing worn by the three subjects in the surveillance tape.

Police executed the warrant Oct. 24 at 8:15 a.m. and seized a black T-shirt with the Puma logo and the word "soccer," I.D. cards for two men other than Alayo and a business card with various numbers on it. Alayo and Nino both have Jan. 22, 2007 court dates.