checks stolen

West Hartford Police, Other Departments See Uptick in Reports of Checks Stolen From Mail

West Hartford Police said they've received 10 to 15 reports of "check washing" this month alone.

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Some Connecticut towns have put out a warning for people who may be mailing checks.

West Hartford, Coventry and Simsbury police departments said they have seen a spike in stolen check crimes.

“Huge amounts. We’ve seen some single checks in the amount of $22,000 or more, some of, most of them aren’t that high. They [suspects] try to not raise too many flags when they’re doing it. Usually, it’s in the thousands,” said Captain Eric Rocheleau, West Hartford Police Department’s public information officer.

Some Connecticut towns have put out a warning for people who may be mailing checks. West Hartford, Coventry and Simsbury police departments said they have seen a spike in stolen check crimes.

He said the department is receiving reports of what’s called check washing - when criminals use chemicals to alter check recipients and the amount of money of the check. They then cash the check illegally for their own personal gain.

We're told many of the cases appear to be connected to checks sent through the mail.

“We can’t say 100% that all of these are related to post office boxes, we know that it could be other reasons as well. It could be internally. It could be a key. We don’t know 100%,” said Rocheleau.

We’re told West Hartford detectives are assisting the postal inspector and postal police in their investigations.

Coventry and Simsbury police said they've received similar complaints recently, too.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service told NBC Connecticut local postal inspectors are aware of these incidents and are working with the local police departments.

In a statement they wrote: "The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is the law enforcement, crime prevention, and security arm of the Postal Service. The U.S. Mail remains one of the most secure means of transmitting personal information.  Every day, the U.S. Postal Service safely and efficiently delivers millions of checks, money orders, credit cards, and merchandise. Unfortunately, such items are also attractive to thieves. That’s why Postal Inspectors across the country are at work to protect our customer’s mail."

If you need to mail a check, the USPS forwarded along this flyer.

West Hartford Police said: “I would bring it directly to the post office themselves. I wouldn’t leave it in my personal mailbox for my letter carrier to pick up. I wouldn’t use a box for the time being right now.”

Rocheleau said blue drop-off boxes have different levels of security, some better than others, so if you see anything suspicious happening near one, let police know.

West Hartford officers have caught criminals stealing mail before.

“A couple years ago, we had a concerned citizen call us, saw some suspicious activity going on at a mailbox, and they actually had a string with a sticky substance on it, retrieving mail from inside," Rocheleau said.

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