Authorities: Berkeley Apple store thief strikes again

Police say Mohannad Halaweh rented a 2012 McLaren luxury sports car using a stolen credit card number. Photo: Sonoma County Sheriff's Office
Police say Mohannad Halaweh rented this 2012 McLaren luxury sports car using a stolen credit card number. Photo: Sonoma County sheriff’s office

A Rohnert Park teenager who allegedly used a fraudulent credit card to buy 14 iPhones from the Berkeley Apple store earlier this year is facing new charges in Sonoma County after authorities say he used a stolen credit card number to rent a high-end sports car and $12 million vacation house this month.

Officers arrested 19-year-old Mohannad Halaweh on June 4 at 6:45 p.m. after spotting him with a friend after they were stopped in a 2012 McLaren sports car, according to a statement from the Sonoma County sheriff’s department.

The McLaren, worth approximately $240,000, had been reported stolen after the credit card used to rent it was determined to have been fraudulent, said Sgt. Michael Raasch of the Sonoma County sheriff’s office Monday.

Authorities say Halaweh used a stolen credit card number to rent the sports car off the Internet from a company in San Jose for $13,000. He used the same card, authorities said, to rent a vacation house in Glen Ellen, about 30 minutes southeast of Santa Rosa, for $27,000 on June 2. The teenager has been identified in media reports as a star basketball player at Analy High School in Sebastopol.


Halaweh was booked into Sonoma County jail June 4 on suspicion of possessing stolen property and credit card fraud. His bail was initially set at $100,000, but it was increased to $1 million during Halaweh’s arraignment June 6 due to his history of criminal acts, Raasch said.

Halaweh is scheduled to appear in court in Sonoma County on Friday to ask for a bail reduction and enter a plea, added Raasch.

Halaweh faced felony charges in Alameda County earlier this year after a March 8 incident in Berkeley. Authorities said he tried to buy 14 iPhones and two Macbook Air laptops — over $10,000 worth of equipment — from the Fourth Street Apple store, using a fraudulent credit card. Police said Halaweh admitted to the crime.

Halaweh pleaded guilty June 4 — the same day he was picked up in the McLaren — to charges from the Berkeley incident, said Teresa Drenick, Alameda County district attorney’s office spokeswoman. He is scheduled for sentencing in that case July 2. [Update, 2:20 p.m.: Drenick said via email Halaweh pleaded guilty to forgery in that case.]

Sonoma County sheriff’s office spokesman Raasch said Monday that authorities did not charge Halaweh’s passenger, 19-year-old Nhimia Kahsay of Santa Rosa, in connection with the sports car theft, but arrested him for several outstanding warrants out of Del Norte County, just south of the Oregon border. Kahsay posted a $60,000 bail and was released, but may face additional charges once authorities complete the current investigation.


Police ask anyone with information about the Santa Rosa case to call Detective Donald Fletcher at 707-565-2202.

Related:
Car used for smash-and-grab raid at Berkeley’s Apple store (05.09.14)
Teen tries to buy 14 iPhones, 2 laptops, with fake credit card at Apple store (03.18.14)

Drew Jaffe is a summer intern at Berkeleyside. He grew up in the East Bay and now attends Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Get the latest Berkeley news in your inbox with Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing. And make sure to bookmark Berkeleyside’s pages on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t need an account on those sites to view important information.