WRIGHT TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Police across the area as well as the U.S. Postal Service officials are issuing an alert regarding thefts from postal service drop boxes.
The I-Team is looking into the thefts. Investigators tell the I-Team the thefts are taking place from drop boxes and they say this might actually involve an organized group that is hitting drop boxes across our region.
“You never think it’s going to happen to you so you’re kind of shocked and still over a week ago and you feel like it’s not real,” mail theft victim Scott said.
But it’s all too real for scot and Melinda from the Mountain Top area of Luzerne County.
“I mailed a car payment and put it into a U.S. Postal box. When I went to use my debit card, checked my online banking, I found I had $24 left in my account,” mail theft victim Melinda said.
The thief stole $5,000 from their account.
“People are around. They are able to use some type of fishing devices. We’re not sure exactly how but they are using some type of fishing devices to take out some mail and go through the mail and look for any checks and what it looks like in some cases they’re white-washing the checks and rewriting them,” Wright Township Police Sergeant Scott Rozitski said.
Rozitski urges people to keep an eye out for anything unusual at the drop boxes.
“What people need to know, what people need to watch when they are using these types of mailboxes especially the ones with the pull down, you got to watch for any type of glue or sticky material on there. A lot of things are getting stuck and people are able to grab letters from there,” Rozitski said.
Investigators say if mail boxes are full to either wait to drop them off at another time or take your letters directly to your local post office. But most of all, be vigilant when it comes to your financial accounts.
“Watch your accounts. If there are checks being taken out of your account, if you haven’t been for a while, you might want to check on that,” Rozitski said.
Scott and Melinda say they are now trying to get their financial house in order and working with police to catch a thief.
“She’s just trying to make a car payment. Meanwhile someone is walking away with the payment. It’s pretty unbelievable, really is,” Scott said.
Law enforcement advises residents to check with your financial institution if you have questions about stolen checks. Generally speaking, most institutions are federally insured to cover these types of losses.
Investigators say they are working these cases and are asking anyone with information to give them a call. They point out that a person convicted on mail theft charges not only faces state charges but also possibly federal charges that could result a long prison term.
The U.S.P.S. issued a statement to the I-Team that reads: “The Postal Inspection Service is aware that local Police Departments and the Post Office have received complaints about possible mail theft and is working closely with those departments to gather evidence to hopefully identify and arrest the individual or individuals who appear to be stealing mail from the larger Northeastern PA community.
If anyone believes that their mail has been stolen, they should contact their local police department and/or the Postal Inspection Service at www.uspis.gov where they can file a complaint; the more information that is provided, the more helpful the will complaint will be to investigators. If anyone believes a check, or other financial information, has been stolen from the mail, they should immediately call their bank and report the theft so they can work with the bank to protect their account.
Finally, if anyone sees any suspicious activity around any blue collection box, particularly activity in the middle of the night, they should call 911 and report the activity. They can also call the United States Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.
We recommend that people take basic steps to protect their mail by mailing items in blue collection boxes before the last collection of the day, which should be posted on the box, and to not leave outgoing mail in their roadside mail box.”