The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is attempting to locate an ex-convict who allegedly has been passing himself off as a law enforcement officer.
A citizen's alert issued Tuesday by the Garden City Police Department stated that the KBI is attempting to locate Robert Helms, 45, who has allegedly been passing himself off as a law enforcement officer throughout the state while cashing phony payroll checks and issuing bad checks to purchase items.
Law Enforcement has information that leads them to believe Helms recently has been in western Kansas.
Steve Bundy, KBI senior special agent, confirmed Helms was last reported to have allegedly passed phony checks Feb. 1 at retail stores in Russell and Scott City — and this time, the fake checks bore Bundy's name on it.
"He's attempted to use my identity," Bundy acknowledged, adding that Helms probably become irritated by him working the case.
Helms is reportedly passing both phony personal checks and phony payroll checks from the Adams County Sheriff's Office, which doesn't exist. However, five places in Kansas have cashed the phony payroll checks for Helms, according to Bundy.
"He prints checks that are fictitious in nature to accounts that do not exist," Bundy said of Helms. "He typically buys gift cards, flat-screens and other electronics, which he then sells to pawn shops.
"He made some recovery at pawn shops in Lawrence and possibly Joplin, Mo."
Helms reportedly shows a badge and sidearm and preys on community members' trust of law enforcement, Bundy said. He reportedly was spotted Jan. 26 in Hugoton trying to cash a payroll check, and last week, the Associated Press reported police in Lyons and Belle Plaine were investigating similar cases that allegedly involved Helms. The alleged crime spree started Jan. 6 in Girard, according to Bundy.
Although Helms was last reported in western Kansas, Bundy says that doesn't mean he is still there.
"It's hard to tell where he is now," Bundy said of Helms. "His typical pattern is making three or four attempts in an area, then reappearing in another corner of the state, traveling extensively."
The KBI is assisting law enforcement agencies across the state due to Helms' extensive travels. According to Bundy, Helms has allegedly "hammered western Kansas" and is suspected of trying to pass checks in the following cities: Ulysses, Meade, Russell, Scott City, Pratt, Kingman, Louisburg, Garnett, Phillipsburg, Smith Center, Beloit, Sabetha, Holton, Garnett, Eureka, Belle Plaine, Anthony, Ark City, Blue Rapids, Clay Center, Hugoton and Lyons.
Helms is described as 5-foot-7, 190 pounds with blue eyes and short gray hair. He is known to wear round glasses and looks older than his age. He recently has been seen driving a maroon minivan.
Anyone who has any knowledge of Helms' whereabouts is asked to call their local law enforcement agency.
Anyone wishing to provide anonymous information about Helms to the Garden City Police Department can contact Crime Stoppers at (620) 275-7807, or text "GCTIP" and their tip information to 847411 (tip411).
Darcy Gray of The Hutchinson News contributed to this story.