BOISE -- Police are reporting an increase in retail fraud from traveling groups making visits to the Treasure Valley, police say, specifically to commit crimes.
Boise Police say in some recent cases, cashiers and store managers have been tipping them off fast enough for officers to make arrests before criminals take the money and run out of state. In the last four days, officers say two high-dollar crimes were solved.
Last Friday, a major Boise retailer told police about a possible counterfeit credit card ring in town with people using fake credit cards to buy expensive gift cards.
"Generally anytime you get a gift card, you can convert it to your own use. You can sell them. There's a real market for gift cards now," Boise Police Department Evidence, Forensics and Victim Services Manager Curtis Crum said.
Crum says within a half hour of the credit card tip, with help from Meridian Police, they arrested two women for grand theft.
"Through that process of getting them detained, we recovered about 120 gift cards that had been purchased using about 50 counterfeit credit cards, and these subjects had traveled up here from the Oakland, California area," Crum said.
On Monday, Crum says they solved another case of large-scale organized retail theft by a traveling suspect. He says counterfeit $100 bills were detected by local Home Depot employees. Within 24 hours, police arrested a Colorado man and found another $7,500 in fake money in his car.
"These were very high quality counterfeits, so this will be a joint investigation with our department. We've also enlisted the participation of the secret service because some of these bills originated and had been passed in Denver as well, prior to coming here," Crum said.
Boise Police Department's Organized Retail Crime Unit says cases like these are picking up and catching suspects fast and stopping the fraud can be credited to officers quickly investigating fast tips from retailers.
"We know ultimately the citizens of Boise pay for this, and these are big dollar amounts. These aren't $10-15 amounts. These are tens of thousands of dollars in a single day these people can incur," Crum said.
Boise Police say since the special retail crimes unit was set up in 2005, there has been a 41 percent decrease in fraud and theft compared to national rates.
Since some of these cases involve stolen credit card numbers, BPD reminds people to always check card statements carefully for any unusual charges. They say often times criminals will test victims with a small purchase first before going in for a big item.