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If you've ever needed a stark reminder to lock the doors on your vehicle religiously - here it is!  A band of crooks are on the loose in Louisiana, and some victims have already paid dearly!

Here's how they're stealing thousands from Louisiana residents before they notice

According to KNOE, this suspected crime ring that started in Florida has been spreading across the country - and now they've allegedly crossed over the mighty Mississippi river and made their way into Northeast Louisiana.  This group's modus operandi is simple: Break into cars, steal checks and IDs, and pass forged checks at the victim's own bank.

This is the definition of "Organized Crime"

Basically, the men in this cabal of thieves do the stealing from vehicles at night and the women do the "face work" of actually cashing the fraudulent checks as soon as the banks open the next day - giving victims no time to report that their checkbooks have been stolen before the thieves make off with the cash.

As you can see from the picture above (allegedly featuring one of the criminals involved in this scheme), the check cashers target the drive-thru lanes at the target bank so that they put some distance between themselves and the teller to make positive identification difficult.  On top of that, these crooks wear disguises to make themselves look like the person in the (stolen) ID required to cash the checks.

They've already done significant damage in Louisiana

Reportedly, the group has already cashed $20,000 in stolen checks in our state in the last week!  It's a sure bet that when the police turn up the heat on this criminals, they will move on to a new area.  We'd be fools to think that they wouldn't make their way west to the Shreveport/Bossier City area, if they're not here already!

Sheriff David Hedrick told KNOE that thieves using this method have already hit Vidalia, Natchez, and New Orleans.  The picture at the top of this page featuring one of the suspects was captured by a security camera at the Delta Bank in Ferriday.

Who's going to take these criminals down?

The FBI and the Secret Service are already on the case.  Law enforcement officials have been cooperating with the federal authorities by sharing everything they know about the crimes in order to bring the bad guys (and girls) down.  If and when they are caught, these crooks are facing charges of forgery, money laundering, burglary of a vehicle, identity theft, computer, and bank fraud.  If convicted, they would be facing 99 years in a federal prison.

I don't know about you, but I will be double-and-triple-checking that I don't leave my ID or checkbook in the car and that the doors are locked tonight!

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