Mail thefts on the rise in southwest Missouri

Counterfeit bills circulating in Aurora

Warm weather typically equates to a rise in crime, and this year is no exception.
Law enforcement officials from the bi-county area reported increases in various crimes involving mail thefts, vehicle thefts and badly reproduced counterfeit bills once again circulating the community.
Pierce City Police Chief Mike Abramovitz reported a recent spate of vehicle break-ins on the north-central side of the city, where it is believed an individual traveled on foot to pilfer loose change, purses, electronics, a range-finder and a pair of binoculars from three different vehicles in one night.
"We're hoping someone has a camera," he said.
The incident occurred in the late night ours of April 17, and Abramovitz reported having no leads at the time.
Monett officers have also been investigating several cases of vehicle theft, as well as deputies with Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, who are seeking information on a recent Stotts City truck theft.
Purdy Police Chief Jackie Lowe announced Barry County officials were seeking information on the whereabouts of Jeremy Alan Martines-Brooks, 29, of Eureka Springs, Ark., on the class D felony of second degree burglary.
Lowe said on April 12, Martines-Brooks was involved in a vehicle pursuit that began in Eureka Springs, Ark., and ended in the Shell Knob area, where the pursuit was terminated after the suspect called dispatch and threatened to drive head on into traffic if the police continued to pursue him. During the vehicle pursuit, Martines-Brooks was observed throwing numerous pieces of stolen mail from his vehicle.
Martines-Brooks has reportedly been stealing mail from rural mailboxes throughout the northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri region, retrieving checks and then washing them of information before forging and cashing them at area banks. Known victims live in Eagle Rock, Golden, Shell Knob in Missouri, and Gravette, Lowell and Eureka Springs in Arkansas.
The suspect vehicle as driving a Silver Toyota FJ Cruiser with Arkansas plates 199RDK.
Martines-Brooks is currently a person of interest in several ongoing burglar, stealing and forgery cases in Arkansas and Missouri.
Lowe reported Barr County law enforcement officials, along with the Department of Senior Services, are seeking information on the location of Gail Sue Branstetter, 62, of Aurora, who is wanted for financial exploitation of an elderly/disabled person with a property value amount of $50,000 or more, a class A felony. Bond has been set at $75,000 cash only.
Donna Beckett, board secretary, said some counterfeit checks had been circulated in the Aurora area.
"It's fake money being passed by kids," she said. "They're not even good fakes. It states right on them it isn't real money."

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