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Editorial | Identity Thieves

Trading on your good name

They are good looking, well educated, come from better than middle-class backgrounds, and are, according to police, thieves. So it came as no surprise that investigators dubbed the couple "Bonnie and Clyde."

But where Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow used guns to rob banks in the 1930s, authorities say Jocelyn Kirsch, 22, and Edward Anderton, 25, are criminals for the 21st century, their weapon of choice a computer.

It wasn't just money they allegedly stole to buy luxury items and make overseas trips - they took other people's names.

It's called identity theft, and it is a growing problem in a nation where more and more business transactions are conducted by using credit and debit cards or the Internet. You've seen the commercials: Let someone get your credit card details, or Social Security number, and you could find yourself paying for a trip to Paris you never took.

Plenty of tips are available on preventing identity theft; they are as common as advice to leave some house lights on when you're on vacation. But you could follow such advice to the T and still become a victim of ID bandits employing tactics allegedly used by Kirsch and Anderton.

This Bonnie-and-Clyde team is accused of adding to their kicks by resorting to the old-fashioned crime of burglary to obtain some identity information.

The couple's victims, police say, included their very own neighbors in the Center City co-op where Kirsch, a Drexel University student, and Anderton, a Penn graduate, took up residence in June.

No windows were smashed or doors jimmied to gain entry, police said. The suspects are accused of using keys they somehow obtained to get into their neighbors' homes and possibly download spy software on their computers. Where they got the keys is not clear, but police say it was Anderton's former employer that converted the building into condos.

Police were alerted to the alleged scheme after one condo resident noticed an unusual charge on her credit card. That's a lesson for us all to check our charge-card bills closely. Or you, too, might be paying for someone else's $2,200 hair extensions.