Ellsworth Police warn of mailbox thefts

7:11 PM, Jan 10, 2013   |    comments
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ELLSWORTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER)--Some Downeast residents believed the checks they wrote and placed in their mailboxes made it to the destination. They found out, however, the checks were taken from their mailboxes and cashed at a local big box store.

Lieutenant Harold Page with the Ellsworth Police Department said, "The suspects are riding around stealing mail out of mail boxes and somehow using the check or checking number to go to Home Depot and make purchases. We haven't seen this before. So this is something new for us."

The first complaints were reported on December 15th when residents noticed a transaction for Home Depot on their bank statements.

Lt. Page said, "When the first two complaints came in then we figured someone has to be doing something, they got some sort of scam going on."

There are four victims and six checks that have been stolen. Nearly $1,500 in merchandise was purchased from the Ellsworth Home Depot.

"Our hypothesis at this point is they are just handing the person the check and the cash register has the amount on it and they just run the check through the little machine and all that does is read the account number...They don't care whether it's made out to Home Depot or not because all they want are the numbers off of it and that's what the machine reads," said Page.

Ellsworth Police are waiting for Home Depot to provide video footage. Lt. Page is hopeful the footage will help solve the case, "We should be able to know from the transaction when it was and should be able to get video of the person that actually did it."

The Ellsworth Police did offer some safety tips for residents when mailing checks. First, when possible drop mail off at the post office or in a post office box. Second, do not leave your mail in the mailbox all day. Finally, keep an eye on your statements to make sure the checks are cleared.

Home Depot declined to comment on the situation calling it an ongoing investigation. The spokesperson would not discuss the procedures clerks are supposed to follow when accepting a check.

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