Thomas Jay Prevatte, 30, and Lashonda Kay Clark, 22, were arrested at their Queen Road home Friday at 9 p.m., according to a sheriff's report.
Prevatte is charged with eight counts of misdemeanor larceny, larceny of choice in action, financial card theft, financial card fraud, two counts of felony larceny, forgery of an instrument and attempted uttering. Clark was charged with forgery of an instrument and misdemeanor larceny.
The couple was stealing mail from people for the purpose of financial gain, according to sheriff's investigator Rodney Tucker.
"They were going around taking mail out of mailboxes that either they had received in the mail or that they had wrote out to send off to make payments," Tucker said. "Then they were altering the checks and trying to get them cashed."
There were 10 victims in a two-week period, Tucker said. The victims lived on
Rockingham Road, Old Wire Road and Harold Morris Road.
Tucker said on one of the checks that the pair had attempted to cash had "Lashonda Clark" in large, thick letters that appeared different from the rest of the writing on the check, both in handwriting and in the pen used.
The couple tried to cash the check at the victim's bank, Tucker said. The teller was immediately suspicious because something looked wrong with the check, Tucker said.
Bank officials then called the victim to see if he had written the check to Clark, according to the investigator.
Prevatte also took a debit card, which he tried to use unsuccessfully six different times in a two-day span, Tucker said.
The pair was identified from video footage at the bank and at an ATM Prevatte tried the debit card in.
Prevatte is in Scotland County jail under a $100,000 secured bond while Clark was released on a written promise to appear in court, the report said.
Reports of mail thefts stopped shortly after the sheriff's department opened the investigation, Tucker said, and he does not believe any more Scotland County residents were victims in this spree.
Tucker said that Prevatte admitted to cashing a check in Hoke County, but added that Hoke County Sheriff's Office will have to decide whether to charge Prevatte.
No other arrests are expected in the mail thefts.
The Scotland investigator says the United States Postal Inspection Service could charge the pair with obstruction of correspondence, a federal crime that carries up to five years in prison.
Tucker says the problem with this kind of crime is there is little anyone can do to prevent it.
The best defense is to use a post office box for those who receive checks in the mail and to send all payments directly through the post office, Tucker said.
The USPIS suggests the following to prevent mail thefts:
• Never send cash or coins in the mail. Use checks or money orders.
• Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery, especially if you're expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items. If you won't be home when the items are expected, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
• Have your local post office hold your mail while you're on vacation, or absent from your home for a long period of time.
• If you don't receive a check or other valuable mail you're expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.
• If you change your address, immediately notify your post office and anyone with whom you do business via the mail.
• Always deposit your mail in a mail slot at your local post office, or hand it to your letter carrier.
• Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted friends and neighbors, you can watch each other's mailboxes, as well as homes.
• If you observe a mail thief at work, call the local police immediately, and then call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.