There are several factors that contribute to the turn to identity theft, police and prosecutors say. The mails are flooded with "pre-approved" credit card applications and documents bearing credit card or debit card account numbers. Much of that mail, along with receipts from credit and debit card purchases, winds up in homeowners' or businesses' trash, waiting to be plucked out.
Sophisticated computers and printers are available to help criminals create forged driver's licenses or other identification cards or checks.
The forged checks or fraudulently obtained credit cards are used to buy merchandise that can be turned into cash. Computers or other goods bought at one outlet of a chain store will be returned to another for money that in turn will be used to buy drugs.
The "high" that the drug creates is particularly conducive to identity theft, too, some police say. The effects last up to 12 hours and users become extremely detail-oriented — several police referred to them as "tweakers." They also don't mind the filth they face "dumpster diving" for discarded documents.
"It's easier than committing property crimes," Mosler said.