The North Canton Police Department have pinpointed two suspects who they believe stole thousands of dollars from residents by taking and cashing their personal checks from their mailboxes.
The department has warrants on file through the Canton Municipal Court for Edward L. Dugan, 59, and Tonya S. Carpenter, 39. The couple's last known address is 1847 Misty Way, Columbus.
Both Dugan and Carpenter are charged with two counts of identity fraud, fourth-degree felonies, and four counts of theft, fifth-degree felonies.
Police Chief Stephan Wilder told North Canton Patch on Nov. 2 that the suspects targeted mailboxes that had the red flag up (indicating they have outgoing mail), then took any checks from inside the mailbox. The suspects then got the victims' bank account information and use that to cash the checks at a branch bank where the victims do not frequent or a branch where their account was not activated.
"If the culprits didn’t find a check in (the mailboxes), they discarded the mail, just threw it out and left it on the ground," Wilder had said. "They really were just looking for an outgoing check or something like that where they could get the signature and the account information off of it.”
They would deposit only half the money into the account and pocket the other half in what Wilder called a "half back."
The suspects also would replace the victims' mail with a flier advertising flu shots.
"By having a flier — when they're approached by a resident or another citizen or a walker, or maybe even by law enforcement — it could have been that they’re just using that as a ruse," Wilder said on Nov. 2.
Police investigated four separate thefts from the southwest part of the city.
Two victims reside in the 500 block of Morello Street SW, one victim resides in the 600 block of Furbee Avenue SW, and the fourth victim resides in the 1600 block of Westfield Avenue SW.
All four victims had placed outgoing mail in their mailboxes to be picked up by the U. S. Postal Service. The suspects were charged for allegedly stealing the mail. Checks were stolen from the mail in two of those cases, and police said the suspects used information from these checks to access the victims' accounts. The suspects were charged with identity fraud for accessing those accounts.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol in Cincinnati helped to solve the cases. Police believe the suspects are involved in similar incidents in other areas of Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are also involved with the investigation.