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Six Ways to Avoid Drop-Box Theft

Kimberly LangProperty managers and rental housing owners have long accepted money orders as a means to get guaranteed funds for rent. However, all too often I hear stories of property management companies dealing with significant amounts of rental drop box theft and money order fraud often totaling thousands of dollars.

Thieves are able to “wash” the money orders in a way that removes the apartment community’s name, allowing them to use the funds for other purposes. The result: owners are not getting rent payments, and residents who paid their rent with a money order may be facing eviction for non-payment.

The most common way a money order goes missing is by rental drop box theft with the use of any type of equipment that usually includes some type of wire with a sticky substance placed at the end. Ensure that your rental payment drop box is as secure as possible – perhaps by first placing it inside the leasing office—or by following these six suggestions:

  1. Hand deliver when possible. Advise your residents to hand deliver checks and money orders to trusted employees whenever possible and not to leave any part blank.
  2. Raise drop box. Raise the height of the drop box to three feet or more from the floor so when residents drop off their checks or money orders the rent check will fall directly to the floor and not in a box that can be accessed from the outside.
  3. Tint windows around drop box. Add black window tint around the drop box so people will not be able to see where the checks land.
  4. Adjust drop box slot. Modify the drop box slots with a piece of metal to make the slots just large enough for an envelope, check, or money order to be inserted. Additionally, you add a safety flap on the inside of the drop box to prevent easy access.
  5. Add video surveillance. Install a video surveillance system if possible. If you don’t already have a video surveillance system in place, there are affordable options. The key is making sure the system is secure—and can’t be easily dismantled—as well as functional. Even a “decoy cam” can serve as a deterrent.
  6. Or you can simply get rid of the rental drop box all together and require residents to pay during business hours or through an online payment method.

About the author: Kimberly Lang is SVP , Payments, Portals & CSM, for RealPage, Inc.,and a regular contributor to Property Management Insider. She can be reached by email


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