Criminals cannot steal your identity by remotely reading your U.S. epassport, because its security features prevent that. To read the chip you must first physically open the passport booklet to obtain a unique key printed inside the cover. The chip can only be read if this unique key is used to unlock it. This makes remote reading of the information on the chip impossible.
In addition, there is no personal identity information in the chip that is not on the printed page. Since you have to physically open the epassport booklet to read the chip, the same information could simply be read off the page.
What the chip does provide, however, are digital security features that prevent counterfeiting or modifying epassports.
More information is available in our epassport tutorial.