Check fraud in Maplewood leads to multi-city mail theft investigation

Two arrests made; charges likely, police say

Maplewood detectives have been sifting through two large cardboard boxes of mail addressed to homes in several cities, a process that may lead to criminal charges for two residents of St. Paul’s East Side.

The Maplewood Police Department responded to a report of two people who were  trying to cash a fraudulent check on Feb. 14 at a bank on the 2900 block of White Bear Avenue, according to a police statement.

Police said a man, age 26, and a woman, age 20, were arrested on the suspicion of check fraud. Officers reportedly saw what looked like a large amount of mail in the vehicle the man and the woman used.

While executing a search warrant Feb. 18, Maplewood investigators found out the mail -- including tax documents, credit cards and checks -- was not addressed to the man or the woman. It was addressed to homes in Maplewood, St. Paul, Woodbury, North St. Paul, White Bear Lake, Oakdale and Gem Lake.

The man is in custody, as he had several outstanding arrest warrants for past traffic-related offenses, such as driving without a license, and felony terroristic threats, according to Maplewood Lt. Michael Shortreed. The woman was eventually released, pending further investigation.

Maplewood police and U.S. Postal Service inspectors are working with area law enforcement on the case. Investigators will sort through the mail, contact the addressees and try to find out if the suspects could be linked to any mail theft, fraud or identity theft crimes, according to Shortreed.

He said it’s likely criminal charges will be filed soon.

“There’s so much recovered (mail),” he said. “We have to contact each of the victims and confirm they didn’t give the mail away.”

As of Feb. 19, Shortreed said there is no apparent connection between this pile of mail and two other arrests made recently related to a rash of mail and identity thefts in the east metro suburbs. 

The Roseville Police Department recently received 24 complaints of mail thefts.  On Feb. 7, St. Paul police arrested two St. Paul men after they were pulled over in a car that matched the description of the vehicle used in a string of mail thefts in Roseville and Woodbury.

Police found the suspects with tax documents, checkbooks, packages and credit cards from several cities. Investigators later discovered the men cashed stolen checks, and even bought shoes with stolen information.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7814 and kroby@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.
 

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