Identity theft and other financial crimes make up around 50% of the felonies the Hays County Sheriff's Office handles.
At one point, it was at 75%. It was even the catalyst for the Department to start a new Financial Crimes Unit.
Detectives Kelly Woodard and Angelo Floiran make up the Financial Crimes Unit. They say they have 60 active cases plus the 10-15 new ones they get every week. It has been so bad, Detective Woodard says, "probably anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of the felony cases that come through are financial crime related."
One of more notorious cases involve a mother, Tammy Underwood, her son, Presley Underwood, and the mother's boyfriend. Detective Angelo Floiran says "we became so familiar with this group that we started getting cases on our desk and as soon as we would read them, we'd recognize their m.o. and knew it was them."
Investigators say the three broke into cars, homes, and mailboxes along I-35. They stole everything that contained personal information, like bank statements. That's not all.
Floiran says, "This is just full of stolen credit cards, id cards, drivers' licenses, insurance cards, and then checkbooks."
Investigators also say they went to websites like Publicdata.com and stole that information too. The three are linked to so many cases, there are at least 86 victims.
Sometimes, the victims aren't even alive. And since the arrest of the Underwoods, detectives say vehicle burglaries have dropped drastically in Hays County. According to the Hays County Sheriff's Office, there were between 115 to 130 vehicle burglaries in Buda from January to June of 2009. But since the arrest of the Underwoods, vehicle burglaries dropped to 30 between July and December.
The newly formed two man unit may be getting some much needed manpower by the end of the year. Detective Woodard says some things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft. Don't pay bills online, shred important documents, and use a service like lifelock.
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