HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — A theft ring that combines identity theft and check fraud hits Howard County.

Gigi Barnett explains police have a dire warning for women in that area.

Howard County police are calling the latest theft ring a complicated scheme involving stolen checks and identity fraud.

“What they’re doing is taking the checkbook from one victim and the ID from another victim,” said Sherry Llewellyn, Howard County Police.

Suspects then make out the check to the name on the stolen ID card. Police say the thieves then walk into a bank.

“With the check and the driver’s license claiming to be that person and walking away with a lot of cash,” Llewellyn said.

Llewellyn says it’s hard to catch the suspects because the theft ring moves up and down the East Coast.

“What we’re finding is the suspects are getting into a community, committing these crimes in a short period of time and then moving on to other communities in other states so it’s difficult for us to keep track of them,” Llewellyn said.

Now detectives are warning women not to lock their purses in cars–even for a split second. Police say it’s where thieves are snatching the checks and driver’s license.

Howard County police say they noticed this crime trend a few weeks ago when eight women reported their purses stolen between December and February. All of the women said they stored their purses in their car as they ran simple errands. Police say if you have to do that, put your purse in the car’s trunk–out of the sight of thieves.

Another tip: police say report stolen checks to the bank immediately. Unlike credit cards, financial institutions need more time to track check fraud.


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