45 money orders still missing
12 arrested in postal thefts
More than three dozen U.S. Postal Service money orders stolen earlier this year remain missing after state and federal authorities arrested 12 people Wednesday* for allegedly forging and cashing several of them.
Honolulu police and U.S. postal inspectors said 76 money orders were stolen from the Kaimuki and Aina Haina post offices in January. By yesterday they knew of 31 money orders that had been cashed. The money orders can be cashed for up to a $1,000 each.
"That's still an ongoing part of the investigation," U.S. postal inspector Tom Terry said.
Acting Honolulu police burglary/theft Detective Clem Enoka said they are focusing part of the investigation on two men suspected in the post office burglaries. Though police have caught several people suspected of cashing the money orders, those who broke into the post offices remain at large.
Enoka would not comment on the two suspects and hinted only that there would be more arrests in the future.
"This is not the end," he said.
Police said several of the stolen money orders were cashed almost immediately for amounts between $600 and $1,000. For undetermined reasons the suspects stopped cashing them in April.
Terry said the break in April could be attributed to the serial numbers that were placed into a national database and earmarked as stolen. In March a post office employee helped catch one suspect when he recognized the serial number as one listed as stolen.
All 12 people -- eight men and four women -- were arrested for first-degree forgery, a Class B felony, which carries a maximum 10-year sentence. Enoka said most of the suspects have some sort of white-collar crime or identity-theft criminal background among them.
Enoka said he wanted to emphasize that police and federal agents working together in large groups quickly arrested the suspects without any problems.
"We had like 80-something guys," he said. "The first hour, we got five people."
Saturday, June 24, 2006
» Twelve people suspected of forging and cashing money orders stolen from the U.S. Postal Service were arrested Wednesday. A story on Page A4 in yesterday's morning edition incorrectly stated the suspects were arrested Thursday.