MISSOULA, Mont. -

Several law enforcement agencies in Lake County have formed a special task force to crack down on a surge in check fraud in the area.

Polson Police Chief Wade Nash says thieves have written stolen checks this summer to local businesses totaling $30,000. The majority of the fraudulent checks have been stolen from unlocked cars or storage units.

"They're very clever about it," Nash said of the thieves. "We recently did a search warrant where we located 5 different IDs on the same person, and found numerous stolen checkbooks in that vehicle, so they're going out and targeting people. Usually it's a crime of opportunity, but they're waiting for the right opportunity."

Ken Avison, owner of the Cove Deli & Pizza in Polson, says fraudulent checks this summer have cost his business several hundred dollars.

"We deposit, and then typically about two weeks and learn the check didn't clear, and the account was closed, which happens a lot," said Avison.

In the small lakeside community, he says it's not just the money that bothers him.

"It's the principle of the thing. Someone stole from me. I try and treat them right, and they come in here and have something else in mind, and that's hurtful."

Nash says the task force formed to target check fraud includes detectives from the police department, the Lake County Sheriff's office, and Confederated Salish-Kootenai law enforcement.

To report a break-in, check fraud, or another form of identity theft, call the Polson Police Department at (406) 883-8212.