biographical facts

Brian Johnson biography: 13 things about firefighter’s wallet thief from Live Oak, Santa Cruz, California

Brian Johnson (©Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office)

Brian Johnson (©Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office)

Brian Lee Johnson made headlines amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He stole a wallet that belonged to a fire ground commander on the front lines of the California Department of Fire Protection (Cal Fire)’s San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit (CZU) August Lightning Complex fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California, United States.

From the evening of August 21, 2020 to the morning of August 22, 2020, the Cal Fire firefighter helped contain the massive blaze around Santa Cruz. During this period, his pickup truck was parked at the Bonny Doon Fire Station on Empire Grade Road in Santa Cruz.

Johnson broke into the vehicle and stole personal items including the firefighter’s wallet containing credit cards while the latter was working overnight. Here are 13 more things about the thief:


  1. He was born on January 25, 1983.
  2. He is 6’6″ tall.
  3. He weighs 275lbs.
  4. He is a resident of Live Oak, Santa Cruz.
  5. In 2017, he was convicted for buying and selling stolen property.
  6. In 2018, he was convicted for auto theft.
  7. He drained the bank account of the Cal Fire firefighter who owned the wallet he stole.
  8. A surveillance video captured him using one of the firefighter’s stolen credit cards at a Safeway grocery store on 41st Avenue in Soquel and at a Shell gas station on 41st Avenue in Capitola. He was wearing a green SF Giants hat, black and white checkered face mask, black t-shirt, blue jeans and black Vans shoes.
  9. A citizen who saw the video tipped off the authorities.
  10. He was wearing the same clothes shown in the surveillance video during a probation search of his residence in the evening of August 26, 2020. Detectives arrested him on multiple felony charges including forgery, grand theft, credit card theft, possession of stolen property and a probation violation.
  11. He was booked into in the Santa Cruz County Jail.
  12. His girlfriend Madison Knight told KPIX, “The truth is that the fireman left his wallet on the counter of a gas station and the person who worked at the gas station is an acquaintance of Brian’s. He took the wallet and then brought one of the cards and presented it to Brian and Brian made the mistake of using it.”
  13. He admitted to using the Cal Fire firefighter’s stolen credit cards and spending $1,400 in gift cards and many other items with them and wrote a letter of apology to his victim, Santa Cruz Sentinel quoted Santa Cruz County sheriff Jim Hart as saying during a press conference in the afternoon of August 27, 2020.

(This is a developing story. More updates to be added soon.)

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