What type of person steals a credit card?

It's hard to peg a personality who steals a credit card. Obviously, the stereotype is that most criminals who use someone else's credit card are both financially desperate and unscrupulous, and I'm sure that is the case, but some of those credit card crooks may also be extremely talented athletes who are also law students. And some who swipe them--swipe in the steal sense, not swipe in through the card reader--are also extremely violent, as you'll see in a moment.

Which is just a way of saying that if you ever get a chance to meet a criminal up close, just remember not to argue if all they want is your plastic. Give it to them and let them be on their merry way. In the end, you're not going to have to pay for whatever they steal. The most you're going to be out is $50, and chances are, your credit card issuer won't even stick you with that.

Identity thief or victim?

Sad story either way. Either this guy really is innocent and his name is being dragged through the mud, or he is this promising athlete and student, just chucking it all away.

Jeremy Dodson, 23, is a former University of Colorado track star and was a couple of weeks away from competing in the 200-meter run at the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, which begins Sep. 2, when he was arrested. The crime? Allegedly, he stole some credit cards two years ago and earlier this year.

His agent, Vince Ewing, told the Associated Press that Dodson's ID was stolen and "apparently used by an unidentified person."

Dodson, meanwhile, told Boulder, Colorado's paper, Boulder Daily Camera, that he thinks he is the victim of identity theft and that the real thief has stolen items in his name. "I've lost my wallet at least three times on Pearl Street," he said. "I lost my social security card, my ID."

Evidence suggested otherwise

That said, the evidence collected certainly seem to point to Dodson. In January 2011, a woman contacted the police to tell that her wallet was missing and said that when she called Wells Fargo to report her missing credit card, a bank employee revealed that there were $1,800 in pending charges, including an Apple laptop and a Kindle. The laptop was going to be shipped out to an M. Dod, and the Kindle was scheduled to be shipped to someone with the last name, Dodson. As it turned out, the laptop was able to be stopped, but the Kindle was mailed.

And then the crimes that occurred in 2009 include a woman reporting that her wallet was missing after a party at her residence in Boulder. The police soon discovered that the woman's credit card was used to pay the T-Mobile account of a Peggy Dodson, who happens to be Jeremy's mother. It was also used to buy an iPod touch, which was sent to someone listed as J. Dod. The two other crimes that year also involved other purchases and bills paid, with again, a Dodson or Dod involved.

In one case, a woman told police that 15 minutes after she noticed her purse was missing at a party, Dodson himself came up to her and asked if this purse he found in the street was hers. The credit cards were missing.

But, hey, you know, it could be that last part is just a strange coincidence and that actually someone else is stealing credit cards from people in Boulder, and because that thief is an avid track fan, this fan is using the stolen credit cards to buy items for Dodson and pay off his family's bills. No, I don't buy that for a second, but I think that's the approach I'd take, if I were a lawyer and representing Dodson.

Meanwhile, in Knoxville

In Tennessee, Knoxville police were searching for a carjacking suspect who, if caught and found guilty, will go to jail for much more than just stealing a credit card. On the evening of Aug. 23, a police officer noticed something odd going on at a Pilot gas station in Knoxville.

Turns out a clerk believed a customer was using a stolen credit card. The man kept making multiple purchases on the same card, and when the clerk asked him about it, the man fled.

As the Knoxville's News Sentinel reports, the officer tried to stop the man, who whipped out his fists. After a brief struggle, he escaped and ran through traffic. Moments later, he was getting into a car, surprising the driver, and asking for a ride. The driver refused and then learned it wasn't exactly a request. The driver was hit and pushed out of the car, which then sped away.

The stolen car was later found, but the carjacker, police eluder and credit card thief was not.

If your card is stolen…

...report it right away. Yes, that wisdom is as obvious as, "If you're thirsty, drink water," but as one person learned in Wallingford, Conn., calling your bank right away may result in catching the crook.

Catching a crook this way doesn't happen often, since they generally split as soon as they make a purchase, but it did happen recently. A 45-year-old woman from New Haven, according to the Hartford Courant, was arraigned last week for charges that she attacked a man (see, these criminals are violent) at a rest area in Wallingford and stole his wallet.

She took $210 in cash and the credit cards, and when the victim called his credit card company to report the theft (I'm hoping he called the police first, but never mind…), he was told that his account was in play at that very moment, that someone was making purchases in his name at a Walmart, which, by the way, seems to be every criminal's favorite store. The police were alerted, and they swooped in to find a woman named Kimbley Galvin-Jones, who had in her possession the victim's wallet, cash and credit cards.

And if someone offers you a great deal at a gas station…

...and they don't work at the gas station, keep in mind you may be about to do business with a criminal.

Cassie Swain, of Stockton, Calif., told her local ABC affiliate, News 10, that on Aug. 9, she was with her toddler son when her purse was stolen out of her car--and soon after, thousands of dollars were charged on her credit card.

She didn't discover her purse stolen right away (the car alarm didn't go off), and between the purse being stolen and discovering the theft, whoever was behind it went to work right away.

Judging from the surveillance video, the crook or criminals apparently went to several gas stations and offered to fill up people's gas tanks for cash. Meaning, they'd say something like, "Give me $20, and I'll happily fill your tank up." I'm betting that they didn't then add, "...with this credit card that I just stole."

In any case, enough customers agreed to the deal that Swain's card was charged $3,500 in gas. Meanwhile, the lovely person or people who did this to Swain are still at large.