Thursday, March 6, 2008
Authorities probe Head Start break-in
By SUE WATSON
Investigators with a number of local, state and federal agencies continue to investigate the theft of files from the Mt. Pleasant Head Start Center on January 28, with one suspect in custody, according to Sheriff Kenny Dickerson.
One female is being held in jail without bail at 201 Poplar Avenue in Memphis, he said. Marshall County will seek extradition of the suspect, who will face numerous charges relating to the theft of files and identifying information. Dickerson withheld the name of the suspect pending completion of the investigation.
“Many long hours have been spent by local and federal agencies subsequent to the break-in,” Dickerson said.
“During the search of a residence at 1929 Baldwin Street in Memphis several files stolen from the ICS Head Start Center were recovered.
“Also multiple identification numbers, crack cocaine, powdered cocaine, weapons, counterfeit checks and money, unrelated to the Mt. Pleasant theft, were found.”
He said thieves were selling the Social Security numbers and other identification numbers for money to individuals who would use them for filing fraudulent income tax statements using the identifiers as dependents.
“I do expect two or more arrests in this case. We still have many leads to follow up on in coming weeks,” Dickerson said.
He encourages everyone to be protective of their information, especially Social Security numbers. The widespread use of the Internet and computer technology has also increased the opportunities for identity thieves to steal information.
“Use an abundance of caution to protect your I.D.,” the sheriff said. “This will only continue to get worse in time.”
He cautioned schools, industries, hospitals, medical clinics, employers and offices in general to beef up security and to keep physical files under lock and key and protected from invasion and theft.
The problem with escalating identity theft is nationwide and Marshall County and Mississippi are no less a target of these crimes as any other locale, he said.
Agencies assisting the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department in this ongoing investigation include the U.S. Marshals’ Service, the Secret Service, Memphis Police Department, and members of the Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force.
Dickerson encouraged anyone who has information that may be helpful in solving this or any other crime to contact the Sheriff’s Department at 662-252-1311. Callers who provide tips will remain anonymous and the information provided will be kept in strict confidence, he said.
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