According to Investigator Michael Lanham, the thefts have been going on for several months.
An investigation revealed the thieves are sliding a long, sticky paper in the drop boxes and pulling it out with the rent checks attached.
Mailboxes – especially business mailboxes – across Richmond and Columbia counties have been targeted as well. Lanham said the thieves appear to target business mailboxes with the arms up to indicate they have mail inside.
“Once they get their hands on the checks, they’re either typing their name over the names on the checks or going behind (a business name) and typing ‘Attention’ and their own name,” Lanham said.
The checks are typically being cashed in grocery stores and then being deposited into an ATM.
Drop boxes at River Creek and Hunter’s Run apartments on Center West Parkway and Georgian Place on Wrightsboro Road have already been targeted.
Investigators are advising renters to hand-deliver their checks or check with apartment management to ensure the drop boxes are secure before paying their rent.
They also advise that people drop their mail off at post offices instead of leaving it in the mailbox to be picked up.
Post office mailboxes, Lanham said, are not susceptible to the sticky paper method because of their design.
Authorities have several suspects, primarily from Burke County, but no arrests have been made.