Overview: Several incidents have taken place throughout the city that police believe are related. An investigation by the Boston Police Special Investigations Unit and the Postal Financial Crimes Task Force have identified members of an organized ring that have been stealing pocketbooks from restaurants and hotels in the Boston area, as well as other large cities on the East Coast.This group of individuals is believed to use the contents of the stolen purse to obtain fraudulent identification by way of the victim’s personal information. In some cases, they would use this information to withdraw large sums of money from the victim’s bank account. On October 3, 2006, the Maryland Metro Area Fraud Task Force, working in conjunction with the Boston Police Special Investigations Unit, executed a search warrant at a suspect’s residence. The search recovered several counterfeit IDs, checkbooks and personal information belonging to victims spanning the East Coast. At this time, several suspects, who are believed to be involved, remain at large. The Boston Police are seeking the public’s assistance in locating Charles Belin, 55, of Boston. Belin is wanted on several outstanding warrants in Massachusetts and Maryland related to identity theft. No Photograph is available for Mr. Belin The Boston Police are also seeking to locate Carol Silva, 54, of Hyde Park. Silva is wanted for an outstanding arrest warrant in Boston related to identity fraud and larceny. Silva is also wanted in New Hampshire and Maryland on related charges. Incident Details: · On August 31, 2006 at 9:00pm, victim reported unknown person at Massachusetts Avenue and Newbury Street stole her messenger bag. Victim reports her Bank of America checks were used at several locations. · On September 17, 2006 around 11:11am, officers responded to a radio call for a larceny at 615 Washington Street (YMCA). On arrival officers spoke with the victim who stated she locked her pocketbook in a locker and when she returned she discovered the lock removed and her pocketbook was stolen. TIPS FROM THE BPD How To Avoid Having Your Purse Stolen: The theft of purses is almost always a crime of opportunity. Your chances of this happening to you can be greatly reduced with the careful consideration of the following prevention tips: · When in a restaurant, if you choose to your purse under your chair then put the leg of your chair through your purse strap, your purse will then be a considerably less accessible target · Do not hang your purse on the back of a chair and out of your sight. · Do not put your purse down on the ground and/or leave it unattended · If you must carry a purse, carry only the items that you need and never large amounts of cash · Always be cognizant of your surroundings and walk with confidence and purpose · Walk in well lit areas and avoid walking close to areas which would allow a thief to hide in an entrance way or behind a parked car · Carry your purse close to your person, preferably in front, don’t wrap your purse strap too tightly around your wrist or shoulder, you’re likely to get hurt if a thief were to grab it forcefully If a thief approaches you, remember that it is best to just let it go. It is not worth being injured by resisting. What To Do Immediately When Your Personal Information Has Been Stolen: · Notify the Credit Bureau right away : Equifax, Transunion, Experian. · Alert the Credit Bureau that your personal information has been stolen · Contact your bank and cancel not only checkbook, but your bank account · Notify your credit card companies to cancel your card Important Contact Information for Identity Theft Victims · Trans Union 1-800-680-7289 · Experian 1-888-397-3742 · Equifax 1-800-525-6285 To report fraudulent use of your checks · Checkrite 1-800-766-2748 · Chexsystems 1-800-428-9623 · Crosscheck 1-800-843-0760 · Equifax 1-800-437-5120 · International Check Services 1-800-631-9656 · Scan 1-800-262-7771 · Telecheck 1-800-710-9898 Identity Theft Safety Tips Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation, and students may be particularly vulnerable to this crime. The first step to prevent identity theft is awareness of how and when you use your personal information. By keeping close tabs on your personal information, you can reduce your chances of becoming an identity theft victim. · Memorize your Social Security number and passwords. Don’t record your password on papers you carry with you. · Don’t use your date of birth as your password. · Shred pre-approved credit applications and other financial documents before discarding them. · Order credit reports every year from each of the major credit reporting agencies and thoroughly review them for accuracy. · Never give personal or financial information over the phone or Internet unless you initiated the contact. · Don’t carry your Social Security card or birth certificate with you. · Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately. · Check your monthly credit card and bank statements for unusual activity.