The Grinch might be stealing your Christmas checks

The United States Postal Service has seen a rash of “mailbox fishing,” the observe of thieves filching letters out of mailboxes, discovering checks after which altering and cashing them.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and crime won’t stop,” says U.S. Postal Inspector Glen McKechnie. “They all use the darkness. They’ll go at night when the streets are empty and there is nobody out, and that’s when we find that they are conducting their fishing expeditions.”

One New Yorker confronted a person who was allegedly mail fishing by apparently slipping his belt coated with sticky stuff via the slim mailbox slot. As she videoed him together with her cellphone and yelling at him to cease what he was doing, the person continued and responded that he did not care that he was on digital camera earlier than driving off on a moped.

The New York City Police Department has plastered indicators on some blue postal containers warning folks about mailbox fishing.

The New York City Police Department has plastered indicators on some blue postal containers warning folks about mailbox fishing.


“Sending a check or money in the mail? Beware of Mailbox Fishing!” says the indicators, explaining that individuals ought to “drop mail that contain checks directly at the post office.”

Earlier this yr, a hoop believed accountable for stealing more than $100,000 worth of checks was busted; one other suspect in September was caught with $84,000 price of checks. The marketing campaign of New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen had two checks price $21,583 fished out of a mailbox; and in August, Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, police arrested two teenagers for allegedly stealing and altering checks price $250,000 from mailboxes.

Isabel Vincent mentioned two checks she once mailed were fished out of a box, altered and cashed for greater than $1,500.

“Are we going to see a world where mailboxes are gone? I mean, that would be very sad,” she says.

Vincent’s checks have been doctored, with somebody washing out the payee and writing one other identify then cashing the checks. Even although her financial institution finally reimbursed her for the loss, she says that she now takes care to solely mail checks on the publish workplace or pay electronically.

Authorities say a mail dropbox outside a Pennsylvania post office was struck dozens of times by thieves searching for money and checks.

Authorities say a mail dropbox outdoors a Pennsylvania publish workplace was struck dozens of occasions by thieves trying to find cash and checks.
(FOX 29 Philadelphia)

“Don’t pop a check in the box. Go personally to a post office,” she advises. “It’s a bit of extra time, and you don’t have the convenience of doing it in front of where you work, which is where I used to do it, but at least you know you have a modicum of trust that your check will make it to its destination.”

McKechnie advices folks to publish their mail close to the field pickup time in order that letters do not sit in a field in a single day, when many of the fishing happens.

‘Every blue assortment field on the road nook has a time on it when the field is swept. We’re asking clients to place the mail within the field earlier than the gathering time. If the mail sits in that field in a single day, it might be stolen.”


The Postal Service inspectors are cracking down on the practice and have taken steps to make mailbox fishing more difficult. Thousands of boxes have been retrofitted to remove the old swinging door to narrow the mail slot. While that has caused a decrease in thefts, they still continue. McKechnie says if you think that you have been a victim, police should be contacted.

“We work with the precincts to assemble that data,” he says. “We’re the Postal Inspection Service. We must instill belief within the mail. Those containers are secure, and we need to get the message out to mail earlier than that final assortment time.”

A mailman reaches out of his truck to deliver mail, Oct. 2, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A mailman reaches out of his truck to ship mail, Oct. 2, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The fishing has expanded to armed theft. Last month, a Chicago mail provider was robbed at gunpoint for his mail box key, giving thieves entry to the containers that maintain bulk mail. In Santa Monica, California, thieves bashed in mail containers to steal their contents.


“When you mail a check, look at your statements. Make sure that the check was deposited or the right person deposited the check,” mentioned McKechnie, who added that people who find themselves victimized ought to report any thefts to the police and to the Postal Inspection Service.

Jennifer Johnson contributed to this report.

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