As authorities continue to battle a rash of mail thefts in northeast Queens, a pair of men were recently caught on camera stealing mail from a Bayside mailbox, according to police.
The 111th Precinct has released photos of two unidentified suspects pictured lifting mail from United States Postal Service (USPS) mailboxes stationed outside of a local post office on Springfield Boulevard between 64th Avenue and the Horace Harding Expressway, in the Oakland Gardens section of the neighborhood.
The two men, each wearing dark-colored hoodies, are seen loading mail into a white bin and bag.
Authorities are urging residents not to use public mailboxes in the area and instead place mail inside of their local post office. Mailboxes will not be secure “until they are replaced AND have new locks,” the precinct said on Twitter on July 9.
Areas of Bayside, Flushing and Little Neck have seen a spate of mail theft incidents in recent months. Mail containing checks has been reported stolen from mailboxes in areas including 188th Street and 48th Avenue, Bell Boulevard and 35th Avenue, 73rd Avenue and Springfield Boulevard, Marathon Parkway and Northern Boulevard, and in front of the Flushing, Bayside and Little Neck Post Offices.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the USPS, recently told QNS that the group is actively investigating and taking the threat “very seriously.” All mailboxes in Bayside have either been retrofitted or received enhancements or security upgrades to protect against thefts, spokesperson Donna Harris said, and the group “will be putting out more” in the surrounding area in the near future.
Perpetrators committing the crime take stolen checks, frequently lifted through the “mail fishing” method, and use an acetone wash to remove ink. They then alter payee and monetary value and cash the check for themselves.
Authorities are encouraging residents who mail their checks to frequently check their account balances to ensure that there has been no suspicious activity. Checks should be written with gel impact pens, which contain an ink that is difficult to erase.
During recent crime prevention efforts, officers from the precinct arrested Frank Akinnuoye, a 50-year-old Forest Hills resident, after he was allegedly discovered stealing mail from residential mailboxes on 42nd Avenue between Bell Boulevard and 214th Place on June 27.