PHOENIX — A Valley man found out his identity was stolen when he was detained for a crime he didn’t commit.
Between landscaping jobs over the weekend around Greenfield and Elliot in Gilbert, Marc Arnowitz experienced the knot-in-your-stomach moment of police lights in his rearview mirror.
He said officers told him he was pulled over because one of his taillights was out.
When the officer came back to the car, Arnowitz said the tone of the officer changed.
“I was like, ‘put my phone down? And [the officer] was like, ‘yeah, put your phone down. Step out of the vehicle,'” he recalled.
With a clean record, two jobs a fiancé, and four kids at home, Arnowitz was handcuffed and asked to sit on the curb.
He said police told him when they ran his ID through a crime database, his name was tied to a felony drug warrant.
“How could this happen? Are they going to take me in? All these things are going through my head at the time,” he said.
Gilbert police tell ABC15 Arnowitz was under ‘investigative detention’ for 13 minutes, according to their records. Arnowitz said in the moment, watching cars go by and letting his mind race, it felt more like a half hour.
He shared a photo of the indention the handcuffs made on his wrist.
Gilbert police said the actual man wanted for felony drug possession used Arnowitz’s name as an alias.
Once Arnowitz was released, he remembered his wallet with all his personal information was stolen – back in 2008.
“They took a couple of my credit cards and debit cards out. I wasn’t able to tie information back until this happened. It seems very coincidental,” he said.
Ed Mierzwinski with the Arizona Public Interest Research Group said Arnowitz’s situation isn’t uncommon. Between identify theft for tax purposes or financial reasons the people stealing someone’s identity for evading the law, he said, is the worst kind.
“That consumer ought to contact the Federal Trade Commission, FTC.gov,” said Mierzwinski.
Outside of telling the FTC, He said if your personal info is stolen, start with freezing your credit and debit cards, and contest unknown charges. Other consumer experts tell us to notify the social security administration.
Arnowitz also notified area law enforcement.
“I have to go downtown and get fingerprinted,” he said.
He said one law enforcement agency told him he could be fighting for his identity for the rest of his life.