BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Brown County Sheriff's Office is warning the public and other law enforcement agencies about a loosely organized crime ring that may be breaking into cars and stealing from people's bank accounts.
Last week, a woman got $13,000 from four Nicolet National Bank branches in Green Bay, Bellevue, Howard and Suamico. The identity thief used fraudulent checks which were stolen during car break-ins outside a Kaukauna health club and from another car break-in in Mequon in southeastern Wisconsin.
The group may also be connected to similar crimes throughout Wisconsin, including Appleton, Fond du Lac, Grand Chute and Janesville. Brown County authorities say they have information the thieves are not from Wisconsin.
Investigators believe the crime ring works like this: Thieves watch parking lots and usually target women, who are more likely to leave ID's, credit cards and checkbooks in their vehicles. They'll quickly use them to withdraw large sums of money from multiple banks before the victim can notify the bank or close their accounts.
The crime ring typically recruits women to impersonate the victims, sometimes using wigs or other disguises to vaguely resemble the victim (since they have their photo ID), then using the lane farthest from the teller's sight in a bank drive-thru.
In the case involving NIcolet National Bank, the woman was driving a white Nissan Rogue SUV with two different license plates -- 844 JCW on the front and ACG 8960 on the back -- neither of which is registered to that car. (Related or not, we reported on license plate thefts in 2017.)
Anyone with information that can help investigators should call the sheriff's office at (920) 448-4230. You can also provide information anonymously through Green Bay Area Crime Stoppers at (920) 432-7867, online at 432stop.com, or on the P3 Tip smartphone app.
Law enforcement agencies that may have similar or related cases should contact Brown County Sheriff's Sergeant Roman Aronstein.