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Thief Foiled After Pulling Out His 'Rewards' Card While Using Stolen Credit Card

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (STMW) -- When using a stolen debit or credit card, it's almost always a bad idea to proffer some of your own identification, even if that does get you more free stuff in the process.

Naperville police say that's pretty much exactly what happened last weekend to Aurora residents Jeremiah N. Benjamin and Katherin R. Mejia. Benjamin allegedly used a stolen bank debit card to buy a necklace at the Kmart store on Naperville's northeast side, and then picked up a free pair of earrings using a store "customer rewards card" emblazoned with his name.

Police Sgt. Lou Cammiso said the curious caper got underway Sunday morning in the parking lot of the Iroquois Club. The apartment complex, at 1101 Iroquois Ave., is only a short distance from the Kmart, located at 1199 E. Ogden Ave.

A woman told police her car was broken into after she parked it in the Iroquois Club lot, Cammiso said. She found a bank debit card missing from her purse, which had been left inside the car, he said.

Mejia, 18, allegedly broke into the car and took the debit card. Cammiso said she and Benjamin, 21, then allegedly went to the Kmart "and bought some items there" using the stolen card, goods that included a necklace valued at about $100.

Cammiso said Benjamin then apparently realized the purchase had helped him amass enough credit or "points" on his Kmart customer rewards card to obtain a free pair of earrings. The cashier gave Benjamin the earrings, valued at $25, after examining the card and noting his name, Cammiso said.

Police were called after activity was noted on the stolen bank card, Cammiso said. They obtained images of Benjamin and Mejia from the store's surveillance cameras, he said.

The couple soon after were "seen riding their bicycles in the area" by a police officer who recognized them from the surveillance tape, Cammiso said. They were taken into custody around noon Sunday.

Benjamin remained Thursday night in DuPage County Jail on $20,000 bail. He faces trial on charges of identity theft, unlawful possession of a credit or debit card and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, according to records on file in DuPage County Circuit Court

He was convicted in August of charges of attempted use of weapons and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, stemming from an April 23 arrest on the 100 block of East Ogden Avenue in Naperville. Court records showed Benjamin was placed on supervision and fined in that case.

Mejia was released on bond after being arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass to vehicles and theft. She and Benjamin are scheduled to be arraigned separately next month.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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