Suspected stolen check cashers nabbed in the act

Christian Plank is arrested by Eureka Police. Photo courtesy Aaron Ostrom

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE/EUREKA – On the morning of Aug. 30, PacOut Green Team organizer Aaron Ostrom's truck was burglarized in front of his McKinleyville home. "The one time I left my dang truck unlocked," Ostrom lamented. He has video of the suspects ransacking it.

Among the items the culprits made off with was some loose change from the center console and an old PacOut checkbook that Ostrom had left in the glove box and forgotten about.

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After he made a police report, Ostrom wrote it off as a lesson learned and went back to work. Today, doing a bi-weekly audit of bank activity, he noticed that three PacOut checks had been cashed at the McKinleyville branch of Umpqua Bank.

On visiting the bank, Ostrom was told that one check had been made out for $500 and cashed by a Christian Plank, with "Tree Service" written in the memo line. Two more had been cashed by a Cassandra Labrum, for $250 and $300, with "House Keeping" jotted in the memo line.

Check images courtesy Aaron Ostrom

Check images courtesy Aaron Ostrom

Since the two didn't have accounts there, they were fingerprinted at the time of the check cashing, and their images were recorded on the bank's surveillance cameras. But that was of little immediate comfort to Ostrom.

After dealing with the bank situation, he strolled over to the nearby McKinleyville Sheriff's Substation and reported the incidents. Personnel there were familiar with the individuals to whom the checks were written. "They know both of the names," he said.

Cassandra Labrum is arrested. Photo courtesy Aaron Ostrom

Ostrom then went to his Eureka Pacific Outfitters shop, where he got a call from the Umpqua Bank Eureka branch on Fifth Street. he was told that Plank was there cashing another one of the since-canceled checks, this one for $450. "I jammed over there," Ostrom said.

At the bank, he recognized Plank from his Facebook page. As Plank got a cup of coffee, Ostrom told staff to stall him as he called police.

EPD officers arrived in short order, and on catching sight of them, Ostrom said Plank headed for the back exit. But Ostrom was already there and blocked the door with his foot, preventing Plank's escape. EPD took Plank, who Ostrom learned is on probation, into custody.

Christian Thomas Plank was arrested on suspicion of PC470(a), check forgery.

As that took place, said Ostrom, "Lo and behold, here comes the lady." Labrum was also cuffed and taken away.

UPDATE: EPD says she was not arrested. Said a spokesman, "They had her detained for questioning and then released. Officers did take her purse and phone as evidence. It is possible a warrant for her arrest could be issued depending on information gathered throughout the investigation."

For all the good works it does for the community, the PacOut Green Team isn't immune from being victimized by crime. Last spring, the truck the volunteers use to clean up natural areas blighted by garbage was burglarized, with three windows bashed and cleaning supplies stolen.



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