SOUTHPORT, Ind.-- Southport police officials are hoping an early morning arrest will help lead investigators to the source of some widely circulated counterfeit money.
Southport Police Chief Tom Vaughn says officers recovered eleven counterfeit $100 bills after arresting a teenage suspect early Monday morning. Southport police suspected the bills were fake and reported the incident to the U.S. Secret Service. Vaughn said information from the Secret Service office quickly shed light on the scope of what they had found.
“They currently know what they’ve checked is counterfeit,” Vaughn said. “And some of the serial numbers have been used up to 3,000 times.”
The incident began when a Southport officer tried to stop a speeding driver on Madison Avenue, just south of Southport Road, around 12:15 a.m. Monday. Instead of stopping, Vaughn says the driver hit the gas and lead police on a brief chase that ended in the 6100 block of Orinoco Avenue. During the chase, a .45 caliber handgun was thrown out the window of the 2004 Chevy Impala. The gun was recovered near the corner of Madison Avenue and Banta Road.
The pursuit ended when the driver went off road and got stuck in a muddy field, Vaughn said. A passenger in the car ran off and got away, but the 17-year-old male driver was apprehended by police K9. The teen was taken in police custody to an area hospital to be treated for dog bites.
At the scene of the arrest, officers noticed the $100 bills in the car and turned them over to U.S. Secret Service.
Serial numbers on counterfeit money are recorded by the agency every time a fake bill is caught at a business and reported to police.
Vaughn doesn’t necessarily think the 17-year-old suspect was printing fake money, but he hopes to learn where the teen got the bills.
“So our hope is that this will lead to catching whoever is making all these counterfeit bills here on the south side,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn and other local authorities say most Hoosiers don’t realize how much counterfeit money is in circulation at any given time. People are often reported for trying to pass counterfeit bills without realizing they had fake money in their wallet.
“You’ll get a lot of calls at a Speedway or something like that where it’ll say a person has a counterfeit bill and they don’t know that it’s counterfeit,” Vaughn said. “You know, they might have gotten it off someone else, or it was change, you know from another store.”
“You know everybody laughs when you go to the store and they check it with a marker,” Vaughn continued. “And anymore it seems like maybe we should be checking our own money with it too.”
The U.S. Secret Service has detailed guidelines on how to spot the difference between real and counterfeit money on their website.
Anyone with information that could help the investigation can contact Southport police at (317) 787-7595.