The Fresno Police Department is urging apartment residents to be aware when paying their rent by leaving a check, because thefts from apartment drop boxes are on the rise.
In fact, according to the Fresno PD, between $8,000 to $10,000 worth of checks and money orders have been stolen in the last month at various drop boxes. Sgt. Sherree Flores of the Fresno PD says that some thieves come up with some clever ideas to obtain written checks and money orders to rip off apartment tenants.
“They make little devices that go down into the boxes and pick up the mail,” Flores said. “Often, it’s a sticky substance and they just pull the mail out of the boxes.”
Lt. Don Gross also says that when a check gets stolen, the name on the check can be changed so it can get cashed to a bank, or make payments via the telephone or internet.
“More critical, they print their own checks with the bank and routing number of the stolen check,” Gross said. “Thieves will go to any length to plunder the drop-box contents, even if it means stealing the whole box. Suspects can empty a box in just a couple of minutes.”
The advice that the Fresno Police Department is giving to apartment residents is to not drop off a check or money order overnight in the drop box at all.
The best way to prevent theft and get your rent payment in on time, or even early, is by going to the apartment office during normal business hours, or even paying online. When writing out a check, it’s also best to use a special gel pen, with an ink that won’t get washed off if stolen.
And, if a check is stolen, it’s best for the resident to contact not only the police, but also call the bank immediately, close the current account, and open a new one.
“This is a hassle, but it’s more of a hassle when your bank account is empty and you can’t pay your bills,” Gross said.
Police are also encouraging apartment managers to empty drop boxes each night.
KSEE24 News: Fresno Police: Drop Box Thefts on the Rise
Fresno Bee: Fresno Police warn about thefts from drop boxes