Police: Convicted identity thief arrested again

Published On: Feb 04 2013 10:30:31 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 04 2013 10:32:59 PM CST
Princella Steels
HOUSTON -

A woman who was the focus of a long-running investigation by police, the United States Secret Service and the Social Security Administration has been arrested.

One Houston police officer described Princella Steels, 51, as one of the most prolific identity thieves in the city. She was taken into custody in the 3100 block of Beran near Ambrose in southwest Houston on Monday morning.

Investigators said Steels may have stolen hundreds or thousands of dollars using stolen names and phony accounts.

The most recent investigation began after Steels was arrested in July as she was going through a security checkpoint at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Transportation Security Administration officials said they found $60,000 in cash in one of her bags, along with fake identity cards and bogus credit cards.

She was charged with tampering with a government document and released on bond, but that got the attention of federal agents and Houston police.

Investigators said they think Steels received more than $400,000 over a 5-year period by filing multiple Social Security disability claims. Detectives said they expect to file theft charges against her for allegedly using an elderly man's personal information to open bank and credit card accounts.

Steels has a long criminal history that goes back to 1980. She's been convicted of drug possession, forgery and multiple charges of theft and insurance fraud.

Steels is being held in the Harris County Jail without bond.