BENTON, Ill. – A couple from southern Illinois appeared in federal court last week to plead guilty to a car break-in and identity theft scheme.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois said 30-year-old Zachary Patrick and 31-year-old Briana Blair stole checks and IDs from several victims, often by breaking into the victims’ vehicles.

Patrick and Blair then used that information to write and deposit fraudulent checks, forge victims’ signatures, and withdraw thousands of dollars from the victims’ bank accounts in eastern Illinois and western Indiana. The pair even opened a bank account using one victim’s stolen information.

Authorities finally caught up to Patrick and Blair in Brazil, Indiana, as they were breaking into another car. After initially identifying themselves to law enforcement using two of the stolen IDs, police confirmed who they really were.

Police found stolen IDs, credit cards, and financial information in Patrick and Blair’s car.

Patrick and Blair each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

A U.S. District Court judge will sentence Patrick and Blair on November 17. They face a mandatory minimum of two years in federal prison and a statutory maximum of 32 years.

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