Somebody walked off with a 300-pound safe from the Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet on Friday night, and no one noticed.
"It's bizarre," said Darrin Berg, an investigator with the Cloquet Police Department. "How do you get out of there without anyone seeing something?"
The safe contained blank checks from residents of the hospital's nursing home. They were being kept by the hospital for safekeeping.
There also were blank checks from the Community Memorial Hospital Resident Trust Account fund in the safe, as well as credit-card receipts and other paperwork, Berg said.
Berg estimated that more than 100 checks could have been stolen.
"There could be thousands of dollars" of stolen checks on the loose, Berg said.
The safe was last seen at 11 p.m. Friday. When a hospital employee noticed the safe missing about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, hospital officials informed the police but wanted to make sure the safe hadn't simply been relocated before they reported it stolen. They notified the Cloquet Police Department of the theft Tuesday morning.
Hospital officials declined to comment.
The 3-foot-tall combination safe was in an unlocked office that the hospital used as a billing area, Berg said.
There were no surveillance cameras in the vicinity, and no suspects have been identified, though a nurse recalls seeing a young male wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, jeans and a bandana on his head in the area before the safe was stolen, Berg said.
The billing office is near the hospital emergency room, and Berg said thieves might have loaded the safe onto a wheelchair and wheeled it out of the building.
Berg has seen safes stolen from residential homes, but never from a hospital.
"Usually, we'll come across the safe smashed open in a garage, or in a ditch, or in the woods," he said.