Category Archives: Identity Theft

Code 911 in focus: A purse left behind solves a slew of crimes

If you need any more reasons to get a locking mailbox, this lady’s purse should provide a plethora of them.

Here’s the scoop: The purse was left behind Feb. 5 by a woman fleeing Walmart in Port Orchard. She’d been spotted stealing computer software and when a store loss prevention employee intercepted her, she made a bee-line for a car, according to Kitsap County Sheriff’s reports.

She dropped the purse in her flight. In doing so, she helped deputies solve a slew of crimes.

Here’s what was inside:

  • Twleve US Savings bonds worth almost $4,000 that had been reported in a burglary earlier this year;
  • Some meth;
  • Jewelry from the aforementioned burglary, as well as receipts, bills and documents from it;
  • Three residents’ Washington ID cards (none of which were hers);
  • A Washington state Fraternal Order of Police card belonging to an NCIS agent;
  • A Fed Ex package containing a man’s military service record;
  • Someone else’s IRS W-2 form;
  • Check stock used to make checks, along with five checks from five different accounts;
  • And finally, the likely tipoff to just how she got hold of all this stuff in the first place: A notebook that had many addresses of estate sales and, most notably, addresses of where to “check mailboxes,” deputies said.

Mail theft’s not a new phenomenon. You may recall a few years ago my story on a man who supported a meth habit by actually creating files for each person’s mail that he stole.

Mail theft, from what I can tell by reading police reports from around the county, appears to be on the rise again. And they’re not just taking mail, but packages left on front porches (For instance, the package found in this purse likely falls in that category).

A sheriff’s deputy worked to return all of the personal items found in her purse. And while she got away at Walmart, police eventually found the suspect (through a tip). She was booked into the Kitsap County jail early Wednesday, where she remains on $40,000 bail.

Have I sold you on getting a locking mail box yet?

Supreme Court Decision: ‘Cars will be Treated more like Houses’


A U.S. Supreme Court decision two weeks ago may have gone by with little fanfare, but its monumental impact will be felt across the country.

Arizona vs. Gant concerned a man convicted of cocaine possession. He’d been driving with a suspended license, and when arrested on suspicion of that charge, police searched his car.

As a regular reader of the county’s police reports, I can tell you that many felony cases are developed after police find a driver with a warrant, and then are able to search his or her car. They could find drugs, bundles of other people’s mail, or evidence or other criminal activity. And no crime gave the cops a chance to look inside more often than driving with a suspended license, or “DWLS” for short.

Until now.

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One Central Kitsap Woman’s ID Theft Tale: ‘I Feel so Violated Right Now’

Anna Williams has vowed never to use a credit card again.

The Central Kitsap resident was up skiing earlier this week, her American Express card happily in her wallet. When she came down from the mountain, she found that someone had somehow started using the card.

Williams, who works as a letter carrier for the post office, speculates that a waiter or waitress who’d taken her card to pay for a meal swiped the numbers from it. In any case, she’s become a victim of identity theft.

“I want people to know that this happens right here in Bremerton,” Williams said. “I feel so violated right now.”
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Identity Theives Going Postal

Josh Farley writes:

ID thieves are turning to their local post offices for their latest nefarious tricks, according to a story Saturday in the Seattle Times.

Their strategy combines some old, and some new, Times Reporter David Bowermaster reports. The old: they steal your credit card. The new: they use it at the post office, whose outer offices with stamp vending machines are often open 24-hours-a-day.

But how on Earth would you liquidate all those stamps?

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Confessions of a Former ID Thief

After I interviewed Keith Winfield for Sunday’s story, I e-mailed to ask specifically about the first time he was arrested in Kitsap County.

I wanted to find out some more of what he felt when the reserve sheriff’s deputy who arrested him — who was also the loss prevention officer at Costco, where Winfield had committed some of his ID thefts — put cuffs on him.

His answer is insightful, and conveys a side of the story we don’t often get to see: that of the person arrested.

Here’s what he wrote me.

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‘A Mailman of Sorts’

“My morals and values on meth were in the gutter,” Keith Winfield told me last week. “I didn’t care about you or anyone I was stealing from.”

Winfield is the source of a Sunday story in the Kitsap Sun, chronicling his addiction to methamphetamine and how it propelled him to do almost anything to steal people’s identities for quick cash.

Now 29 months sober, Winfield is trying to turn his life around, leaving behind his addiction and nefarious past.

One way he’s trying to make things right with victims he never knew is by giving the public useful tips to help them safeguard themselves from ID theft.

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Identity Theft in Arizona

The New York Times reported May 30 that 1 in 30 people in the United States will have their identities stolen from them each year.

The financial loss to the overall economy adds up quickly: an estimated $48 billion.

There’s no worse place for ID theft, according to the federal government, than Arizona. And the Times reports that law enforcement there are having difficulty keeping up with ID thieves, particularly meth users.

A follow-up critique to the story ran on, slamming the Times for not explaining how these criminals are staying ahead of law enforcement.

In any case, both stories are good reads, and ID theft is a serious problem. In my readings of police reports around Kitsap, too often are people reporting their mail stolen, the receipts taken, their garbage rummaged through.

Have your own tale of identity theft?

Identity Theft Thwarted? Not Quite

There were 3.6 million victims of identity theft in 2004, meaning that roughly 3 percent of the entire U.S. populations were victims of the fast-growing crime, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Thus, many residents have become far more alert when it comes to their incoming and outgoing mail, which is one of the ways identity thieves get hold of personal information that can be used to access bank accounts and use credit cards.

So when a 47-year-old Indianola woman was sorting through trashed and recycled mail at the Kingston Post Office Friday, it raised eyebrows — and generated a call to 911.

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