Postal inspectors found Elizabeth Repp in a Phoenix apartment with the personal data of 400 potential identity theft victims after a year of searching, says the Arizona Republic. The apartment was guarded by countersurveillance equipment and a pit bull. Officials say they found a stolen motorcycle out front, merchandise purchased on stolen credit strewn around inside and, a stash of methamphetamine in the kitchen.
The case illustrates a common crime in Arizona, the identity theft capital of the nation. Often motivated by the need for money to buy methamphetamine, small-time operators have become more sophisticated. Almost anyone could become a victim. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission said there were more reported cases of identity theft per capita in Arizona than any other state in 2004 and that the Phoenix area led other metropolitan areas in incidents of the crime. Officials attribute the trend to the demographic makeup of the area, which has high numbers of vulnerable elderly residents and the popularity of meth, a highly addictive drug that can keep users awake for days at a time. Two people who tried to use a credit card number belonging to Cindy McCain, the wife of Sen. John McCain, were sentenced Wednesday to 2 1/2 years in prison for identity theft.