Philadelphia police warn public of checks being stolen from blue collection mailboxes

USPS mail collection box
Photo credit Elaine Cromie for The Washington Post via Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Stolen mail puts people at risk of being victims of many crimes, like identity theft or thousands of dollars lost to bank and loan fraud.

That’s why Philadelphia police are warning the public to be vigilant with their mail, after residents in some neighborhoods reported checks stolen from blue U.S. Postal Service collection boxes.

Police said criminals use a technique to alter stolen checks and forge signatures. The department advises people to take precautions, including not depositing mail into the blue collection boxes after the last collection time.

“People can help us help them by paying attention,” said Postal Inspector George Clark. “There’s a reason why we post this on the boxes — do not drop mail into a box after the last daily collection time.”

Clark said authorities have received some complaints about alleged thefts from the blue boxes, mostly in West Philadelphia, though he could not give any specific numbers.

“Most of the mail thefts that have been reported on in the last several days occur in the middle of the night,” he said. “I don’t know that people are — it’s under investigation, we’ll find out — but people don’t break into things, whether it’s a blue collection box or cars on the street, generally during the day. They do it when things are quiet and they can rely upon the fact that they’re unlikely to be seen.”

He assured the criminal or criminals are not targeting tax information, votes or the like — they’re looking for checks. He said the best strategy is to wait until the next morning to drop off your mail.

“Blue collection boxes are safe. They are hard to break into. We see theft out of them to be very rare, but just taking the very simple step of mailing (before) the last collection time can go a long way,” he advised.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Elaine Cromie for The Washington Post via Getty Images