It may seem like a nugget of common sense not to use anything that could be traced back to you when you're stealing thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, but not everyone thinks that far ahead.
When mother-and-son team Michael and Margaret Pollara planned out an elaborate, multi-state toy heist, they failed to see the error in their logic when it came to using a rewards card. Gotta pinch those pennies somewhere, right? It came back to bite them, and in a big way.
The duo's plan was relatively simple, but it required a lot of stealth; after hunting down inexpensive toys which came in large boxes, they emptied the contents and replaced them with more expensive items, like Lego sets or LeapFrog learning systems. Then, after paying the price on the box, they took their loot home and sold the stuff on eBay for a major profit; the arrest report for Michael values his eBay and PayPal accounts at around $900,000.
While they managed to keep themselves off camera while doing the deeds, Michael used his rewards card for every purchase, which allowed investigators to track each one across 27 states. They kept tabs on the thieves for months, allowing them to accumulate more and more goods and keeping records of what they were shipping out. They now have several charges filed against them.
I think the main lesson to be learned here is, don't steal. But if you take away anything else from this article, I hope it's that you shouldn't let a discount be the thing that gets you busted for multi-state felonies.