Thousands stolen from local church | Mercer Island Police Blotter

On Jan. 5 the bookkeeper, Janice Leitzke, at the Mercer Island United Church of Christ, also known as the Congregational Church, reported unauthorized charges totaling $12,500 on the church’s checking account, from Dec. 12 to Jan. 3.

The church has since recouped the money, which was used to pay a variety of bills, including phone bills, Leitzke said.

“We caught the situation early and so we have gotten the money back,” Leitzke said. “The bank was able to reimburse those charges back to those various vendors.”

Vendors included Comcast, Puget Sound Energy, Wells Fargo, Capital One and others. The church closed the account and opened a new one.

Police have the names of three suspects, which appeared on the church’s bank statement, Leitzke said. The case is open and under investigation.

The following information was compiled from MIPD case reports.

Dec. 29

Fraud: Victims of a mystery shopper scam tried to cash counterfeit $850 postal money orders at the Mercer Island post office at 10:43 a.m. in the 3000 block of 78th Avenue S.E. They were getting paid to wire the balance of the cashed postal money order to an address in the Philippines as an evaluation of Western Union's customer service. One witness was present.

Dec. 30

Car prowl: A Ford Escape was entered in the 9600 block of S.E. 34th Street, on the northeastern tip of the Island, sometime after 4 p.m., Dec. 29. Someone stole the vehicle manuals, vehicle registration, insurance card, GPS unit, garage door opener and Rayban prescription sunglasses. The vehicle was parked — probably unlocked — in the driveway of the residence.

Fraud: A 79-year-old Mercer Island man received several checks and deposited them into his bank account after taking a call from someone who claimed to be representing the Federal Trade Commission. The caller said that the victim "was entitled to a large sum of money but would need to pay the processing fees," according to the police report. The caller said he could get a grant for the victim for the fees to be paid. Later, the checks were found to be counterfeit. The victim must reimburse the bank for the funds. The incident occurred between Oct. 17 and Nov. 4, and was reported on Dec. 30.

Dec. 31

Fender-bender: A 42-year-old woman was cited for driver inattention after rear-ending a sedan at 11:25 a.m. in the 7700 block of S.E. 27th Street. She had stopped for traffic, but removed her foot from the brake. She admitted the fault was hers. The fire department treated a passenger in the victim's vehicle for back pain.

Jan. 1

Car prowls: An unlocked Ford Mustang was prowled in a driveway in the 8400 block of S.E. 33rd Place, on the North end, sometime after 2 p.m., Dec. 31. Multiple items were stolen, including stethoscopes, a Leatherman tool, Apple iPad, canvas shoulder bag, wallet, bank cards, and iTunes gift card. Fingerprints were taken.

In the same neighborhood, an unlocked Nissan Altima, a rental, was prowled in a driveway in the 8200 block of S.E. 30th Place sometime overnight. Various gifts were stolen, including a telescope, Canon digital camera, new clothing, black diamond bracelet and Boliva watch, and a key fob. There is no suspect information.

Two additional vehicles — a Mercedes-Benz and a van, both unsecured — were also prowled in a driveway one block north sometime after 11 p.m., Dec. 31. A cell phone charger worth $20 was stolen.

Jan. 3

Arrest: Police arrested a 28-year-old Seattle man at 3:14 a.m. in the 7500 block of eastbound I-90. The man had multiple warrants and was driving with a suspended license. He was booked into the King County Jail after being cited for local offenses.

Arrest: Police booked a 19-year-old Island resident into the Issaquah Jail on a $1,000 Mercer Island warrant after 5:20 p.m. The warrant was for trespassing.

Malicious mischief: Police arrested a 19-year-old male at 7 p.m. in the 7600 block of S.E. 27th after he kicked a hole in the wall of his mother's home. He had been upset with his mother, who told him not to call her names in her house. Police found him in the town center after he left the home.

Jan. 4

Accident: A vehicle went off the road into a ditch at 6:15 p.m. in the 3800 block of 90th Avenue S.E. The driver had stopped in the middle of the road to make a U-turn, failed to complete the turn, went into the ditch and had to be towed out. There were no injuries.

Arrest: Police arrested a 46-year-old Mercer Island man at 8:27 p.m. in the 2400 block of 72nd Avenue S.E. on a felony warrant. He was booked into the King County Jail.



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