Police search for thieves who stole checks from St. Charles County churches

Detectives with the St. Charles County Police Department are investigating the theft of checks from mailboxes at two churches and a church-related school.
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 5:17 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Detectives with the St. Charles County Police Department are investigating the theft of checks from mailboxes at two churches and a church-related school. The thieves were able to cash checks totaling $40,000.

“The victims didn’t even know they were victims at the time,” St. Charles County Police Department Spokesman Corporal Barry Bales said.

Checks were stolen from Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Dardenne Prairie. Brandon Rothkopf, Director of Risk Management for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, released the following statement:

“We are extremely grateful for the quick response of the St. Charles County Police Department to these unfortunate thefts. At this time, we are aware of a small number of parishioners who were affected,” Brandon Rothkopf, director of risk management for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said in a statement. “However, anyone who suspects they may have been impacted should immediately contact their banking institution, their parish and the United States Postal Service to report the theft.”

According to police, checks were also stolen from Dardenne Prairie Presbyterian Church in Dardenne Prairie and Lighthouse Church in O’Fallon. A church in Chesterfield is also believed to be a victim of the same theft ring.

Bales said the thieves were able to cash some of the stolen checks but didn’t try to change the amount, which may have raised red flags. Those who wrote the checks as donations or to pay for tuition, received notification from their bank that the checks were cashed, believing they’d been cashed by those at their church or child’s school.

The thefts could have started in June or July but took some time to be noticed.

“And it’s not until they receive a call or a contact from the church or the church-affiliated school that says they have not received the check that they begin to look more closely into it,” Bales said.

On Monday, police posted surveillance photos on Facebook, of four suspected mail thieves that were caught on surveillance camera. Bales said the photos helped bring in leads that might help identify the suspects.

Brandon Buford, the pastor of Lighthouse Church, said there are surveillance cameras trained on the church’s mailbox now. And he said it’ll be replaced soon with a locking mailbox.

“As a Bible-believing Christian, I think all theft is wrong. They’re walking a pretty thin line stealing directly from the Lord,” he said.

Buford said his church will be sending contribution letters to parishioners to allow them to reconcile their checkbooks with the checks the church has received. He urges other churches in St. Charles County to do the same.

To avoid having your checks stolen, police recommend delivering a donation check to your church or child’s school in person. Or Bales said, you can use online banking or an app to send the money electronically.