WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- If you own a small business, the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office has a warning for you. Two local businesses have recently fallen prey to theft.
Dustin Mintern owns Diesel Addiction off Castle Hayne Road. He tipped us off to this story after a group of men came into his shop and walked away with checks they cashed for more than $10,000.
"One guy came back in the shop and was asking me questions about his supposed truck that needed work done," Mintern said. "While I was back there distracted, some of the other guys apparently came into my office, found the key and opened up the desk drawer."
Mintern says three to four men, one or two of them with gold teeth, driving a bluish gray minivan took blank checks and important documents with Mintern's signature on them May 18. They allegedly had homeless men cash the forged checks totaling $10,960.
Diesel Addiction is not the only victim. Sound Machining of Wilmington fell prey to a similar incident and lost more than $6,000.
"We would implore that all the business owners are vigilant in whom they have in their businesses, knowing where the people are and also making sure that their office is secure," New Hanover Co. Sheriff's spokesman Cpl. Jerry Brewer said.
Brewer believes the same group of men committed both crimes because the descriptions are practically the same. He said to treat a business office like a home and always lock doors and drawers and never leave important documents lying around.
"I definitely will be keeping my office a lot more secure and keeping a closer eye on people that show up," Mintern said.
Mintern said he'll have to be less trusting and more skeptical when customers come in to his shop, especially those who seem like they don't know what they're talking about.
Cpl. Brewer said you are your own best defense against theft.