August 21, 2018

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Not My Warrant! Take Mistaken Identity Claims Seriously

Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement, Corrections

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for law enforcement and corrections officers. It deals with claims of identity theft or mistaken identity during warrant arrests.  

Imagine what could happen when an identity theft victim has an otherwise routine encounter with law enforcement.

More and more business is being conducted online. This has resulted in a huge increase in identity theft. Well over 15 million U.S. residents experience some form of identity theft every year. The thieves who steal personal information often create false identities. They use these new identities to commit more crimes.  

Imagine what could happen when an identity theft victim has an otherwise routine encounter with law enforcement? Lo and behold, there’s a warrant for their arrest. Perhaps it’s because the identity thief committed a crime using the victim’s information. 

Now the victim is under arrest, probably begging and pleading with you. Telling you they were the victim of identity theft. Saying they can’t possibly be the person you are looking for.  

Should you ignore these pleas? No.  

You should take the time to look into the matter. Do what you can to either prove or disprove the person’s “not my warrant” claim. Contact the originating agency. Compare photographs and fingerprints. Check the physical descriptors very carefully. Look at the information on the warrant about scars, marks, and tattoos. Compare them with the person you have standing in front of you.  

Then thoroughly document all the steps you took to investigate the mistaken identity claim.  

Please take this very seriously. It’s much better to “un-arrest” someone early in the process than to have an unfortunate crime victim sitting in jail for hours, days, or maybe longer. 

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off. 

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