NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - Thieves in Newport News are targeting apartment complexes for rent money.
Tens of thousands of dollars was stolen from six locations this month, and police believe the cases are related. All of the locations have one thing in common -- a drop box.
The two locations in the north precinct are:
Franklin Management Company - 710 Denbigh Blvd.
- Stoney Creek Apartments - 650 Stoney Creek Lane
The four locations in the central precinct are:
Jamestown Apartments - 200 Yeardley Drive
Criston Apartments - 2160 Criston Drive
Featherstone Apartments - 702 Bellows Way
Abbington Landing Apartments - 961 Marcus Drive
All of the crimes took place between May 28 and June 6.
Workers at Franklin Management knew something was wrong when they tallied up the June rent payments and found they were dozens of checks short.
"Tenants were coming in saying that they had made payments and checking to see if we had received them," said one worker. "There was no indication we had received them, so we knew, at that point, something strange was going on."
Then, they reviewed the surveillance camera, which is pointed at the drop slot on the front door. On two occasions, two men, wearing hoods, walked up to the door and stole checks from the drop slot.
"They were pretty aggressive about it and quick," said the worker, who estimates they spent only 10 minutes at the office each time.
On camera, the suspects can be seen walking up to the door with a long thin object. Police say the suspects used adhesive to get the envelopes to stick to the thin object, as they retrieved them through the slot.
"The adhesive part I have never seen before," said Officer Michael Daniels, with the Newport News Police Department.
Officer Daniels responded to the report at the Featherstone Apartments on Bellows Way. At all six locations, a combination of money orders and checks were taken.
"There are people out there who are semi-sophisticated, who can actually wash the check and put a different name on it, then try to cash it that way," said Officer Daniels.
Franklin Management says that is exactly what happened. A nearby bank told one of their tenants her check had been washed and cashed under a different name.
The management company credited tenants who had proof that they paid. Consequently, the company is out $30,000.
And that is not including the money they spent fixing the door -- tinting the glass, and making the drop slot much higher and thinner.
"So what goes in, does not come back out!" said the worker.
The company is waiting to see if insurance will cover any of the cost.
The surveillance tape showed the two suspects also had a getaway driver. Police believe they are traveling in a silver sedan.
If you know anything about this crime, or if you believe you were a victim, call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.
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