Crime is evolving and the North Miami Beach Police Department is evolving with it.
Last month, the department announced the creation of two new units — a gang unit and an economic crime unit. Both will work in conjunction with gangs and street crimes.
“We’re finding that the gangs these days are a lot more sophisticated,” police Capt. Richard Rand said. “In order to generate revenue for their enterprise, they steal people’s identity. They steal people’s Social Security numbers. They take credit card numbers, clone the numbers, or install skimmers at gas stations at ATMs.”
Whenever you’re talking about money, you’re talking about violence.
NMB Capt. Richard Rand
Rand says the implementation of both units — made up of uniformed and undercover officers — is the only way to really target the new breed of gangs.
“It’s all about hitting them financially,” Rand said. “For example, we’ve seen instances where an elderly person or someone will go up to an ATM, take out money or make a transaction. Then at the end of the transaction, it’ll ask you if you want to make another transaction. That’s when they’ll actually intimidate the person to make one, or walk up to it when the person walks away and they’ll still be in that person’s account.”
Although the city has detectives who work individual gang and economic crimes cases, there was no dedicated unit. So the units will serve to better attack identity theft and virtual economic crimes, on the upswing in the city.
“We’ve caught on,” Rand said. “My attention is turning toward to solving these kinds of crimes. Those types of crimes lead to more violent crimes. Whenever you’re talking about money, you’re talking about violence. You take somebody’s money and it becomes personal.”
So far the department has handled a variety of cases involving search warrants based on fraudulent activities and guns that “tie these people into gangs,” Rand said. “Crime is evolving. They are making more money by stealing people’s identity compared to people selling drugs.”
Rand added: “You have these organized gangs that are into credit card fraud, stealing people’s identities, filling out bogus IRS returns and getting millions of dollars. That’s a lot easier than selling drugs on the street. Not having to get caught running from the police or being in drive-by shootings. It’s a bigger money jar.”
This is how it works:
“These new gangs will steal your identity, use it, and then sell your identity to someone else, who will then use your identity and steal your credit. And once that gets burned and people catch on, they shut that down and move on to the next person.”