KEPR Crime Tracker: ID thefts in Tri-Cities

TRI-CITIES, WA - The KEPR Crime Tracker is looking into identity theft here in the Tri-Cities. We learned it's being reported to police less often in Pasco and Kennewick, but that doesn't mean the crime is happening less often.

Tracy Mendoza isn't a weekly online shopper. So she was surprised to find a sale from a website she hadn't visited -- printed on her bank statement.

"I thought my husband made a purchase and then when I saw it was to a website we had never gone, I felt angry," said Mendoza.

Richland has seen 34 cases of identity theft in 2012. That's an increase of nearly 50-percent -- just since last year.

Pasco Police have had 51 identity theft cases filed this year.
It's the city's lowest since 2009. But officers are quick to point out -- the numbers don't tell the whole story.

"I would imagine there are just as many out there that haven't been reported to us, that have been reported to us," said Captain Jim Raymond of Pasco PD.

Banks can react and investigate within minutes when a wrongful purchase is reported. A new card is issued with money often reimbursed. The whole process may bypass law enforcement.

Many of these crimes happened to local victims -- but elsewhere in the world.

"The less of those that get assigned to our detectives to look at, to see if there are any leads, to follow then the more time that's freed up for other crimes they can actually address in the community," said Raymond.

"It's hard because there is nothing you can really do about it, when it goes online it's really hard to trace in cyber space," said Mendoza.

Tracy knows as long as her bank protects her -- she won't change her shopping habits.

"I feel pretty secure about it," said Mendoza.

Without a local perpetrator -- police say your best defense is to always check your bank statement.

Catching trouble early is key.

To keep our story balance -- KEPR checked in with Kennewick P-D and found out they keep track of their identity theft differently than Pasco and Richland. Individual statistics were unavailable today.