Group of check forgers take local banks for thousands

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Monett Police Chief Tim Schweder cautioned members of the Barry-Lawrence Chapter of Crime Stoppers of at least four suspects who are forging checks and have stolen "several hundred thousand dollars" over the past few weeks.

The crimes have taken place locally in Monett, Pierce City and Purdy, where checks that appear to be written from area cattle markets have been cashed for large sums of money.

"This is a very organized group," Schweder said. "They have fake checks and fake identification that look authentic. They have apparently researched this and have equipment for forging these documents."

Schweder said the male suspect was from the Springdale, Ark., area and the female suspect was from Oklahoma.

"They have been joined by at least two other people and continue to travel to different areas to commit these crimes," Schweder said. "So far we know they have at least three different IDs and have hit three different banks."

Although law enforcement officials have obtained "great video" of the suspects, they have taken care to park out of camera range at local banks. No vehicle description is available.

"The suspects are still on the run," Schweder said.

The Barry-Lawrence Chapter of Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest and filing of charges of those wanted for these felony crimes. Tips may be submitted by calling 354-TIPS (8477) or toll-free at 1-888-635-TIPS (8477).

In other business, Monett's School Resource Officer Jay Jastal reported several tips had come in on the tip line during the past month but so far none had resulted in an arrest.

"We've had reports of drug activity in Pierce City and Monett," Jastal said. "We've also had tips on other activity but there has been no follow-up."

Crime Stoppers board members approved sponsoring a child for this year's Shop with a Cop program at Walmart.

Children are identified as eligible for the program through school officials.

Through a Walmart Foundation grant, a total of 25 children will receive $50 gift cards to spend on family members and themselves this holiday season. The Monett Police Department is also sponsoring children for this year's event.

Any organization wishing to sponsor a child may contact Jastal at the Monett Police Department at 235-4241.

The Shop with a Cop event is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12.

The next meeting of the Barry-Lawrence Crime Stoppers will be at noon on Thursday, Dec. 19 at Angus Branch Steakhouse, located on Highway 60 in Monett. All area law enforcement agencies are encouraged to send a representative to share information on crime happening in the bi-county area.

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