12 ON YOUR SIDE: Thieves take rent checks

MECHANICSVILLE, VA (WWBT) - A rent drop box check washing scam has ripped off tenants in Mechanicsville.

Just last week, we told you how thieves were snatching rent payments in Henrico County. Now Hanover Police are investigating the same type thefts - this time, the complex is suing to evict tenants for non-payment after their money orders got stolen.

The money order snatchers are still out there or maybe they've moved on to another city and state. Not knowing is exactly why Jennifer Wright says she's scared she could get hurt for speaking out. Mostly though, she's angry at Mill Trace Village Apartments.

The summons to evict the family shows a May 20 court date. Wright says Mill Trace Village Apartments doesn't dispute rent checks and money orders were stolen from their drop box - but it's holding the tenants responsible.

"We feel like low lifes, because they're trying to make us out to be like we don't pay our rent, like we're bums,' said Wright.

Wright filed a police report with Hanover County and showed us copies of two money orders for April's rent.

She says investigators told her they were washed with a chemical, re-written to different payees, and cashed in Florida.

"One of them was cashed at a Blue Star Beverage, direct deposit. The other one has a name on it, but we can't make it out."

Wright says she had to cancel her June wedding. The brides' maids dresses were delivered while we were there.

"We had to take money from our wedding to pay for an attorney. There's so much stress. The wedding was the end of June, and court the end of May. They were going to collide with each other."

Wright says Mill Trace Village Apartments told them their payment for May would automatically go to the missing April rent payment and they would evict if they didn't catch up.

"We are absolutely not paying them another April rent. That's about $1,700 pay it twice. They know their box was broken into. They're the ones who told me."

I reached out to Mill Trace Apartments several times Monday by phone and got Amy, who said she was new and the manager was out. Amy said she would call her boss and call me back - but never did.

No response to three emails to different addresses for the property.

"If we go to court, and the judge somehow rules in the apartment's favor, we are not only out of $895, we have to pay another $6,000 for being sued - and then we have 10 days to be out of our apartment."

Check snatchers fished out rent payments from drop boxes in Henrico too around the same time. Henrico detectives got suspect surveillance photos. One complex even made their drop box more secure.

There is no video surveillance in front of the office where Wright lives and the drop box has been replaced with a flower planter.

"They should take responsibility," said Wright. "They should cover this rent and wait to get their money back."

I got through to the complex's lawyer not long ago. David Solodar would only say they're working towards a settlement.

The couple wants the eviction stopped and the complex to recoup its money from insurance or when the crooks are caught.

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