FLORENCE — Police are looking for a woman accused of finding a person’s financial records at the recycling center and using them to make purchases, officials said.
Police said arrest warrants have been issued for Nyokie “Chentea” Pratt Ewing, 35, whose last known address was on North Locust Street in Florence.
Florence police detective Jerry Pearson said Ewing is wanted for identity theft and second-degree theft of property.
Reports indicate a judge ordered Ewing to work at the Florence Recycling Center to pay off a fine.
“While she was there, she found some documents that had bank account and checking account numbers on them,” Pearson said.
He said she is accused of using that information to make online purchases.
“She had the account number and the check routing number,” he said.
Ewing is accused of ordering a high school class ring and other jewelry, as well as paying off cellphone bills, according to reports.
“It was about $1,000 that she stole from this other person’s checking account,” Pearson said.
Michelle Mason, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama, said this is a perfect example of why people need to be careful what they throw away and put out for recycling.
“People need to be reminded that it is just as important to watch what they are recycling as what they put into the trash,” Mason said. “Once you put items out on the curb or in a Dumpster, it becomes public domain. And Dumpster diving is still a major way thieves steal financial information from people.”
She said most recycling bins are open to the public and are not secure.
Pearson said people need to make sure they shred important documents that may have their financial information or other types of identification on them before disposal.
“Never throw it away or just put it in the recycling bin. That’s what happened in this case,” Pearson said.
Mason said it also is a good idea to make sure the shredder is one that is a “cross-cut shredder.”
“It makes the residue like confetti, which makes it difficult for anyone to try and put the pieces back together,” she said. “This is just another precaution that people need to do to keep from someone stealing their identity.”
Anyone knowing Ewing’s whereabouts is asked to call 256-768-2728 or Shoals Crime Stoppers at 256-386-8685.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.