With the elections in San Diego approaching, the candidates for mayor have been asked many questions. One not yet covered in the debates and written forums is identity theft. Emails were sent from this reporter to all four candidates. They were asked, “How would you compare the importance of identity theft criminal prosecution to other issues in San Diego, what impact does this crime have on the city, and how will you address it if you win?”

Bonnie Dumanis included the following in her remarks:

“Identity theft has been called the fastest growing crime in America and as District Attorney, I¹ve seen firsthand how prevalent identity theft is in San Diego and how devastating it can be to its victims.

“Both individuals and financial institutions are victims in the typical ID theft case -- and victims come from all walks of life in our city. As District Attorney for the past nine years, I've taken the dual approach of prosecuting identity theft whenever we can prove the crime and conducting proactive community outreach to educate and prevent ID theft.

“Under my leadership, the District Attorney's Office is leading a Computer and Technology High-Tech Crime Response Team which focuses on nabbing criminals who try to commit identity theft online. They're having real success in catching ID thieves. We've also conducted years of community outreach to countless San Diegans, giving tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

“Often, the violent crimes my office prosecutes like murder and assaults grab the headlines, but identity theft is a crime that can seriously damage a victim's financial well-being and quality of life. San Diegans continue to face tough times as the economy struggles to recover. Becoming the victim of identity theft makes it even tougher. As Mayor, public safety will continue to be my priority. Therefore, I will strongly support the efforts of the San Diego Police Department, City Attorney's Office and other groups to fight identity theft and protect San Diegans.”

Carl DeMaio responded by saying:

“Identity theft is the nation's fastest-growing crime. Mail theft, dumpster diving, and theft of company records by employees and computer hackers are all major sources of identity theft, which are as prevalent in San Diego as any other major American city. The San Diego Police Department has been proactive in tackling this problem, even publishing a specific ‘ID Theft Guide’ for San Diego residents who believe they are the victim of identity theft.

“If elected Mayor, I will ensure that our police department continues to proactively fight this intrusive and devastating crime, and I will work with our District Attorney to make sure that San Diego is on the leading edge of the fight against identity theft.”

Nathan Fletcher responded with this answer:

"As a legislator, it has been my job to ensure that as criminals and cyber predators become more and more innovative, government does the same. During my time in the Legislature, I supported measures to help California enhance protections for Internet users - modernizing protections for children on the Internet as well as protections to increase criminal charges for identity theft predators that target seniors and dependent adults.

"When it comes to wireless and other technology, San Diego has become one of the nation's most important players. San Diego is in a unique position to help combat cybercrime. Ensuring that the City Attorney and the San Diego Police Department have the necessary funding to fight these crimes and working with the District Attorney's office to combat this epidemic will play an important role in my administration when elected Mayor."

Identity theft is a serious crime. It takes money out of your pocket due to higher business costs when companies lose merchandise due to fraud. There is the cost of law enforcement investigation and prosecutorial time. These thieves are not just simple geeks playing scams on computers. Some are violent criminals and others link to gangs and organized crime.

Last week a large car theft ring was arrested during Operation Last Judgment, a four month undercover operation by the San Diego Regional Auto Theft Taskforce, various local law enforcement agencies and the FBI. Charges were made against 44 people which include gun and drug trafficking along with car theft. However what you don’t know is that almost half of them were also involved in identity theft. Think about that when you go to the polls.

Is your candidate tough on crime or will law enforcement suffer yet more cuts in budgets, putting us all at risk?

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