A Dunwoody woman may have stumbled on the reason for a rash of check thefts in the area – and all it took was a feeling.
The Dunwoody Police Department has been investigating a rash of mail theft and check “washing” that has been occurring in the area for the past few months. There have been nearly 50 incidents reported of checks being stolen, altered and cashed, often for thousands of dollars more than the original value.
The checks have been mailed both from inside the Dunwoody Post Office, located at 1551 Dunwoody Village Parkway, and from the drive-through boxes outside the facility.
Susan Still, who lives less than a mile from the Dunwoody Post Office on Dunwoody Village Parkway, was mailing a card to a friend Nov. 2 using the facility’s large drive-through mailbox. She said she was aware of the reports of theft but felt confident about using the outside box because it didn’t contain a check.
“I put my card in and just had a feeling that it didn’t hit the bottom of the box,” she said. “I put my hand about 10-12 inches down the chute and felt a piece of cardboard that was taped down and trapping the letters from going down into the mailbox.”
Still said she retrieved about 50 pieces of mail that were blocked by the heavily taped carton, which turned out to be a United States Postal Service mailing box. Several checks were in the pile.
When she alerted the workers inside the facility of her discovery, she said she was met with indifference.
“The attitude from the employees was, ‘Why are you mailing things at the box? You know it’s not safe.’ There was no real concern,” Still said. “I bet employees from Federal Express would never tell people that it’s unsafe to use their boxes to send important mail.”
Still said she and others believe the solution to slowing down the thefts is simple – close the outside pickup box.
“If it’s not monitored and it’s not safe, seal it up,” she said. “I don’t know why this hasn’t been done already.”
The mail theft/check washing scheme has gotten the attention of local, state and national officials. In late October, Georgia U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock wrote a letter to U.S. Postal officials demanding an investigation into the incidents, which has resulted in at least $250,000 in fraudulent checks being cashed.
Dunwoody Police Public Information Officer Mark Stevens said information about Still’s Nov. 2 experience had been received and “has been provided to the case detective.”