Men involved in alleged check thefts

Fred Hodge and Clifford Evans

May 7, 2010 9:10:19 PM PDT
Police have issued a crime alert after a gang of thieves stole from rent and mail drop boxes the across Triangle.So far more than a dozen places have been hit since the beginning of the year by a crime ring Raleigh police say is still active.

About $9,600 worth of rent checks was stolen from a Raleigh apartment complex just last month.

"They have found a way to get checks and money orders out of apartment drop boxes," Raleigh Police Det. Sgt. Albert O'Connell said.

He says they have received 17 reports of similar thefts over the past few months.

"Mainly I think they're targeting apartment complexes, because of the drop boxes where people put their checks and their money orders in and they're easily accessible for the top," O'Connell said.

According to incident reports obtained by ABC11 Eyewitness News, even a church is believed to have been hit. Authorities say the crooks take the checks and money orders and cash them in North Carolina and Georgia.

"You've got some guys that are doing the thefts, then you've got other guys cashing the money out," O'Connell said.

So far, Raleigh police have been able to track down one of the check cashers, 57-year-old Fred Hodge. He's charged with two felonies.

An arrest warrant has been issued for 32-year-old Clifford Evans. Police say he was linked to one of the crime scenes by a fingerprint.

While authorities are working to identify other potential suspects, residents are asked to remain vigilant.

"Just simply dropping a check in shouldn't take, but just a moment," O'Connell said. "If somebody seems to be hanging around, if they are anywhere else around the apartments, call us. We'll be glad to go check them out."

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