By Gina Martinez
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) wants to combat “mail fishing” in Queens.
This growing crime has affected Flushing residents over the last couple of months and has led Meng to request new anti-theft collection boxes from the United States Postal Service.
Mail fishers place string connected to a sticky material into collection boxes and the sticky substance attaches to the mail and the crooks pull out the envelopes. The thieves then open the letters and steal people’s personal information including bank, credit card, and Social Security numbers. According to Meng, mail fishers also engage in check washing schemes, in which they wash ink off of checks they stole and rewrite the name of the payee or the amount. According to Meng, one of her constituents was recently a victim of check washing, costing them $4,000.
Last week Meng sent a letter to Elvin Mercado, the head of the USPS’ Triboro District, urging him to take action and install anti-theft collection boxes that have smaller slots throughout the borough. Meng said the smaller slots make it more difficult for thieves to steal the mail inside.
According to the congresswoman, it is unacceptable that Queens residents cannot safely leave their mail in USPS collection boxes.
“Many of the victims of mail fishing are seniors who are particularly vulnerable to these reprehensible schemes and have no means of protecting themselves,” she said. “USPS must act at once to stop this unconscionable crime. The agency must replace all collection boxes in Queens with anti-theft collection boxes to prevent continued mail fishing in our borough.”
In her letter she said that mail fishing has become so prevalent that local police precincts have suggested that residents bring their mail directly to the post office and not leave it in local USPS collection boxes. She said that it is not an acceptable solution because post offices in her district have limited hours, and residents cannot drop off mail when post offices are closed.
“This also creates a significant barrier for seniors and disabled persons in my district, who have issues with mobility,” she wrote. “My constituents need the USPS to provide relief, including, but not limited to, replacing all old USPS collection boxes with anti-theft collection boxes.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart