25,000 Identity Theft Cases Reported In 2005

2006 CBS Broadcasting Inc
9/21/2006 – Authorities Overwhelmed By Sharp Rise In Crimes
(CBS) LOS ANGELES Identity theft in Los Angeles County soared to more than 25,000 cases last year and there could be even more this crimes this year, it was reported Thursday.

The volume has overwhelmed investigators, who say they can investigate only about 10 percent of the cases, the Daily News reported.

“The size of our task force is not large enough to handle the volume of cases,” sheriff’s Lt. Ron Williams, who leads multi-agency Southern California task forces on high-tech crimes and identity theft, told the newspaper.

Teresa Schilling, spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s Office, told the Daily News that investigative resources statewide are being taxed by the skyrocketing number of cases.

“What a lot of law enforcement officials are saying is that they have a threshold of $2,000 in losses before they investigate,” Schilling told the newspaper. “A lot of thieves know that. They will take someone’s credit card information, charge under $2,000, then take out another credit card and charge under $2,000, so they never get caught.”

The Sheriff’s Department alone received 6,132 reports of identity theft last year, up tenfold from just 645 reports in 1999, according to the Daily News. Department officials expect 6,144 reports this year.

The ID-theft caseload in the District Attorney’s Office has skyrocketed from zero in 1997 to 1,515 cases last year, the Daily News reported.

In the past six months, the High Tech Crime Unit in the District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted 270 people for ID theft, computer crimes and related fraud. But despite extensive overtime, all of the unit’s prosecutors have case overloads, officials told the Daily News.

(© 2006 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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