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Movie allegedly inspires teens to steal, forge

Central Point boys say they got ideas from 'Catch Me If You Can,' and The Learning Channel

Two Central Point teens have been charged with theft and forgery after fabricating Oregon identification cards in an apparent imitation of Leonardo DiCaprio's character in the film Catch Me If You Can.

The 17-year-old boys, unidentified because they are minors, allegedly stole a computer from Costco and attempted to steal other high-priced merchandise by hiding the items in a box that contained an inexpensive shelving unit. They obtained a Costco membership with fraudulent Oregon identification cards printed at Kinko's, the boys told police, adding that the movie Catch Me If You Can gave them the idea.

The disclaimer 'Kids, don't try this at home' should probably come at the end of this movie, said Medford police Lt. Mike Moran.

The boys told police that they cut and pasted numbers onto copies of their identification cards, changing their birth year from 1985 to 1981. They copied their identification cards onto shiny, high-quality paper at Kinko's, police said.

As portrayed in Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale Jr. had made a lot money by forging checks and changing his ID, one of the boys told Medford officer Willy Rojas. The boy also told police that he had watched a program on The Learning Channel that explained the process of making false identification.

A Costco employee detained the boys Saturday afternoon when they allegedly paid &

36;40 for a shelving unit. However, the employee said he saw the boys fill a box that originally contained the shelving unit with &

36;950 in wine and cigarettes. The day before, the boys allegedly had purchased the same shelving unit but made off with a computer hidden in the box, police said. Police found the computer at one of the boys' homes.

Rojas cited and released the boys to their parents on charges of first-degree theft and conspiracy to commit first-degree theft. One of the boys received an additional charge of first-degree forgery. Each charge carries a maximum five-year prison term or a &

36;100,000 fine.

At the end everything worked out for (Abagnale) in the movie, one of the boys reportedly told police. The film is based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., who stole millions of dollars by forging checks but eventually used his expertise working for the FBI.

Frank has given more tips to police on how to catch the crooks than the crooks can get from watching the movie or reading his book, Moran said.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail