Text messages implicated a Sacramento television reporter in connection with an alleged shoplifting scheme involving her boyfriend, according to a police report and other court documents obtained by The Desk on Tuesday.
Sabrina Aiko Rodriguez, a former reporter for KTXL “FOX40 News,” was arrested last Thursday on three felony counts of grand theft, burglary and conspiracy after police say she helped her boyfriend, Nicholas Gray, steal more than $2,400 worth of Coach wallets from a Folsom, California outlet store last year.
According to a police report taken the day of the incident, a Good Samaritan spotted Gray placing several Coach wallets inside a “Faraday” bag designed to evade theft deterrent devices at storefront doors. The Samaritan alerted store employees, who reviewed surveillance video of the theft and called police.
Folsom police officers detained Rodriguez at the scene. According to the report, Rodriguez acknowledged being inside the store with her boyfriend, but denied having any involvement in the theft of the wallets.
According to police, a review of surveillance video showing Rodriguez and Gray inside the store near a table filled with Coach wallets. In his report, Folsom police officer Sergey Litvinov wrote:
“I saw Rodriguez shake [a] wallet in the air while looking at the male suspect as if she was trying to get his attention (the male suspect was walking toward her at this point). Rodriguez then placed the item back on the shelf as the male suspect walked up and stood next to her.
The male suspect then placed his hand over 5-6 wallets (same wallet as Rodriguez had picked up just seconds prior) and stood there for a few seconds while looking around. As Rodriguez turned away from the male suspect, he took the wallets off the stand and placed them in a bag. The suspect then grabbed several more wallets and placed them in the bag as well. The video footage showed Rodriguez looking around or possibly looking at other merchandise. The video footage also showed what looked like them having conversations together and knowing one another.
After reviewing the video footage, it appeared to me that it is plausible to believe that Rodriguez was involved in the theft of at least one wallet…when she opens up the wallet, she makes no attempt to look at or check the price, a common trait for shoplifters.”
As he was reviewing the footage, Litvinov wrote that one Coach store employee came up to him and identified Rodriguez as “a news reporter from FOX40 News. The same employee also told me she had seen Rodriguez in the store before.”
Folsom police were able to reach Gray by telephone the day of the incident, but Litvinov wrote that Gray refused to come back to the Coach store on the advise of his attorney.
Several months later, police arrested Gray on an outstanding warrant stemming from a battery and arson investigation. Officers obtained a search warrant for Gray’s iPhone, and that’s when police say they found incriminating text messages implicating Rodriguez in the shoplifting scheme.
According to police, Gray sent Rodriguez a text message the day of the shoplifting scheme more than an hour after officers made contact with the reporter. The text allegedly said: “I love you so much. Your [sic] strong like samurai.” Rodriguez allegedly responded: “Lol. Love you too.”
Police say Gray then sent a text message to an associate in San Francisco saying he’d be in the city with Coach wallets within the next 30 minutes. Authorities believe the merchandise Gray was referring to were the wallets that were stolen from the Coach outlet that day. Officers suspect that Gray was bringing the Coach wallets to the individual with the intention of selling them.
Authorities say several other text messages implicate both Gray and Rodriguez in a handful of other shoplifting incidents. According to police, Gray sent messages to Rodriguez about stolen brand-name purses and sweaters, all of which were presumably sold to people throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Police also say they found photos on Gray’s phone of an unidentified female posing next to stolen Coach wallets. Though the female’s face is said to be obscured in the photo, the Sacramento County District Attorney said in a court affidavit that the female is Rodriguez.
Rodriguez turned herself in to police last Thursday after learning that a warrant had been issued for her arrest, according to KCRA-TV. She continued to post on social media profiles until KCRA reported her arrest.
Ed Chapuis, the news director at KTXL, told The Desk by e-mail Friday that the station was informed by Rodriguez about the warrant and had requested a temporary leave. Though the station knew about Rodriguez’s arrest on Thursday, it did not issue a public statement about the anchor until KCRA’s report was published Friday afternoon.
The station also pulled from its website a story Rodriguez filed in December 2012 about an anonymous shoplifter who admitted to stealing brand-name designer accessories around Christmastime; a copy of the story was re-published by The Desk on Tuesday after it was forwarded by an anonymous KTXL employee. It is unclear if the anonymous source used in Rodriguez’s story was connected to the alleged shoplifting scheme for which she was arrested. A request to station management about the deleted story has not yet been returned.
Rodriguez announced her resignation from the station in a message posted to Facebook on Tuesday.
“Resigning was not an easy decision to make, but it’s one that will allow me to focus on my case and work to reestablish my good name,” Rodriguez wrote.
Chapuis confirmed the station had received Rodriguez’s resignation on Tuesday and referred future inquiries to a public relations expert that has since been hired by the former reporter.
Mark Reichel, a criminal defense attorney retained by Rodriguez, told The Desk by e-mail that his client is “100% innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.” Rodriguez was released on $10,000 bail last week and is scheduled to be arraigned on August 29.