23 Aug 2014
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Phony Doctor Arrested for Hospital Theft Scam

The Oakland woman is suspected of stealing credit cards from staff at hospitals across the Bay Area, including Walnut Creek.

Phony Doctor Arrested for Hospital Theft Scam

The burglar posed as a doctor at seven hospitals around Northern California in order to steal credit cards from hospital staff, police said.

An Oakland woman suspected of posing as a doctor to break into staff-only areas of at least seven Northern California hospitals and steal credit cards from employee belongings was arrested earlier this month, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office reported Monday. Yolanda Smith, 49, of Oakland was arrested in Fairfield on Jan. 22.

Smith reportedly donned a white lab coat and impersonated a doctor to enter secure areas of hospitals. She is suspected of burglarizing hospitals in Walnut Creek, Daly City, Gilroy, Modesto, Santa Cruz, Tracy and Fairfield, where she was spotted by a hospital security guard. Fairfield police made the arrest.

"Luckily, Fairfield picked her up," Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputy April Skalland said. "She's wreaked havoc and hit a lot of people throughout the Bay Area."

Skalland said it's been difficult to identify the impostor doctor because she doesn't stay in one place for long.

"We had some pretty good information and leads about who she was so we've been trying to track her," Skalland said.

Smith, who has a lengthy criminal history, allegedly scammed her way into staff-only areas by dressing like a doctor. It happened at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz during the lunch hour on Jan. 2. There, she draped a stethoscope around her neck to look the part. Once inside, she would pluck individual credit cards from purses or wallet rather than steal the entire bag, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.

"You wouldn't even know your credit cards were missing until you went into your wallet," Skalland said. "She got away with it at so many hospitals. She had, unfortunately, a good scam going."

Smith used the cards stolen from Dominican Hospital to make about $4,500 in purchases at Best Buy, Target and a gas station, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.

Smith is suspected of multiple counts of burglary, identity theft and fraudulent use of a bank card, authorities reported.

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