RAYTOWN, Mo. — An animal shelter in Raytown is trying to figure out how to cover expenses after thieves targeted them.
Erin Morse wears many hats at "Midwest Animal ResQ."
The shelter's founding director's latest challenge is to come up with almost $30,000 stolen from the nonprofit's bank account.
"We don't even make that at one of our largest fundraisers of the year," Morse said.
She recently dropped off a check at one of the mail collection boxes at the USPS Post Office located at 10501 E 63rd St.
"Rather than leaving it in a normal mailbox where people can just open it," Morse said. "That's why we take the extra step to put our mail at the post office assuming that those are safe."
But the check never reached its final destination, so she did a "stop payment" on it.
Then, Morse learned this week that someone wrote three fraudulent checks in the amount of $9,400 each, using the animal shelter's routing and bank account number.
"For the last two days, I've been scrambling, trying to figure out how we're going to cover payroll, how we are going to cover vet bills, how we are going to get our account closed and reopened," Morse said.
When she filed a police report, the Raytown Police Department's records clerk wrote to her that they've taken a few reports for stolen checks from that post office.
On social media there are similar tales. Robyn Burky believes her missing check is in the wrong hands.
"I’m really concerned with the fact that somebody could still create fraudulent checks that would hit my account," Burky said.
KSHB 41 News reached out to USPS, who connected us to Paul Shade, a postal inspector out of Overland Park.
He said that USPS is aware of the thefts happening at their 63rd street branch in Raytown.
According to Shade, there's a team of about a dozen postal inspectors looking into such cases across the Kansas City area.
People can report mail theft to USPS by calling 1-877-876-2455 and clicking option #3.
They can also do so online at usps.com/postal inspectors, or on the Postal Inspection Service website.
In addition, they'll also want to reach out to local authorities.
Victims believe USPS isn't doing enough to solve the problem and is failing its customers.
"I certainly think so. I mean, if we're giving them directly to the post office, and those checks are somehow getting put in the hands of criminals, then I would say absolutely," Morse said.
Burky agreed with Morse.
"It doesn't seem like a solution is taking place and so yeah, they're certainly letting us down," she said. "You know, residents want to be able to trust the postal service and rely on them."
"Frankly, I don't know the safest way to send mail at this point," Morse said.
Shade also shared this statement with KSHB 41 News:
"The U.S. Postal Service delivers almost 130 billion pieces of mail a year to over 163 million customers at some of the most affordable postal rates in the world. Postal Inspectors are the federal law enforcement branch that is in place to investigate reports of Mail Theft and other crimes that are related to the mail."
USPS also offered the following tips to prevent mail thefts:
- Do not let incoming or outgoing mail sit in your mailbox. You can significantly reduce the chance of being victimized by simply removing your mail from your mailbox every day.
- If you are not home when your mail or parcels are expected to be delivered, ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail. If you’ll be away for an extended period, another great option is to have the Post Office hold your mail while you’re away. You can request this online.
- When expecting a package delivery, track the shipment
- In addition, you can also sign up for email and text alerts
- If you do not receive a check or other valuable mail you’re expecting, contact the issuing agency
- If you change your address, immediately notify your Post Office and anyone with whom you do business via the mail
- Hand outgoing mail to your letter carrier, or mail it at the Post Office, an official blue USPS collection box on the street, or a secure receptacle at your place of business
- Never send cash or coins through the mail. Use checks or money orders. Ask your bank for “secure” checks that are more difficult to alter
- Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted neighbors, you can watch each others mailboxes and residences