A group of thieves are opening up credit cards all across Berks County, using the personal information of homeowners, police said.
The curious part, detectives said, is that the victims are all neighbors, living on Buckhead Lane and Anvil Drive in Douglassville.
Det. Jeffrey Smith, with the Amity Twp. Police Dept., has been working on the case from the beginning. He said it is not unusual to receive a few cases of stolen identification per month, but when the numbers started to soar, he said he knew something was wrong.
"In September, we started noticing five in one week, three the following week, and in a weekend, there were another four or five that came in," said Smith.
The victims, officials said, realized something was wrong when they started receiving bills in the mail for thousands of dollars on store charge cards they never opened.
Investigators said the criminals opened charge accounts at Kohl's, Nieman Marcus, Walmart, Toys R' Us, and Home Depot, among others. One bank account was even opened at a TD Bank, police said.
Smith said another common thread between the victims is that they all live in homes built by the Forino company. Police confirmed that no one at Forino is suspected of any wrongdoing.
"They worked with me tremendously. We actually put together a spreadsheet of all the addresses and all the settlement information, and from there, I was able to, at least, eliminate a lot of factors."
Local authorities have already obtained surveillance images from states like California, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, where criminals were using the personal information of homeowners on Buckhead Lane and Anvil Drive to make purchases.
Officials said the unit of the Secret Service that specializes in fraud will be getting involved in the case. Police said they are also working with stores to make sure the victims are not held responsible for the merchandise illegally purchased under their names.
Anyone with information is urged to call police immediately.