Boca Raton police investigating how Army vet's identity stolen during open heart surgery

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Rehabbing from open heart surgery isn't the only time John Mihalik, 82, has shown bravery.

"It was the Tet Offensive and I was in a helicopter," said Mihalik.

A veteran of Korea and Vietnam, Mihalik has passed every test his heart has given him, that is, until July 18.

"I failed a stress test," said Mihalik. "About ninety percent of my arteries were blocked."

On the 22nd, he was wheeled in for open heart surgery. 

His wife of fifty years, Gloria, waited and hoped.

"It was traumatic, but I knew he was in very good hands," said Gloria Mihalik.

Someone else's hands were at work, too. 

The hands of an identity thief. 

When Mihalik woke up the next day, he had a phone call.

"Did you open up a new account here at Sears?" the voice asked. 

"I said 'no, I just came out of surgery, I'm in recovery!' " said Mihalik.

John and Gloria got word that thieves had opened cards at Apple, Nordstrom, Sears and Saks Fifth Avenue. 

They charged thousands of dollars in his name, mostly online. 

He says many of the charges were made July 22, the same day he was in open heart surgery.

"He said if I ever could get my hands on these guys, they'd be put on a desert island and left there," said Gloria. "How could they just do this?"

"The Sahara Desert. Put 'em out there and let them wander," said John.

Mihalik's recovery continues, made easier by what officers told him when they took the report.

"She kept telling me, you are not responsible for any of these charges," said Gloria.

And now, they've got a plan to forget this mess.

"We are going to Europe someday," said Gloria. "God gave him back his life."

Boca police are trying to figure out who and how his identity was stolen. 


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