As more law enforcement agencies find connections between the use of methamphetamine and the use of identity theft to finance that drug habit, two California sherff’s departments have formed task forces to pool investigative expertise in the two very different specialties. Riverside and San Bernardino counties both have formed specialized units to investigate and prosecute identity-theft offenders.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise reports that investigators busted 500 meth labs in Inland Southern California in 2004. Within the past year, authorities say they’ve noticed a direct link between the region’s wave of identity thefts and the ongoing methamphetamine epidemic. Narcotics investigators keep finding falsified credit cards, movie-rental cards, forged checks and computer software that shows identity thieves the tricks to deceive. Federal statistics released in 2005 listed the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan region as No. 2 nationally per capita for identity theft, trailing only the Phoenix area. Inland agencies do not have statistics separating methamphetamine-related identity-theft crimes, but the connection is so strong that such tracking is planned in the future, authorities said.