While northeast Queens continues to see a spike in mail theft incidents, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the United States Postal Service (USPS), 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, according to spokesperson Donna Harris. The group “will be putting out more” in the surrounding area in the near future and is working with NYPD to investigate the crimes and spread prevention tips.
“Postal Inspectors are investigating and take these crimes very seriously,” Harris said. “We will spare no resource to keep the mail safe for our employees and customers.”
The mail is mainly being stolen through a method known as “fishing,” where thieves attach objects dipped in a sticky substance to fishing line, drop them into USPS mailboxes, and pull out the envelopes inside. The crime tends to happen late at night, Harris noted.
The 111th Precinct, which covers areas of Bayside, Douglaston, Flushing and Little Neck, has reported numerous mail theft incidents throughout the command in recent weeks. Checks were first reported stolen, washed and fraudulently cashed after being lifted from U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mailboxes at locations including 188th Street and 48th Avenue, Bell Boulevard and 35th Avenue and in front of the Flushing and Bayside Post Offices.
The crime trend then moved east and south into areas of Oakland Gardens and Douglaston and Little Neck. Checks were reported stolen from locations including Marathon Parkway and Northern Boulevard, 73rd Avenue and Springfield Boulevard and the intersection of 64th Avenue and Springfield Boulevard.
Those who place mail in the USPS blue collection boxes should do so before the final pick-up time for the day, which is posted on the box. Do not place mail at a time where it will sit overnight or over the weekend, Harris said.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service spokesperson encouraged those who are concerned about the security of their local mailboxes to place mail in a collection box in another area or at the local post office. Residents can also hand their mail to a uniformed mail carrier.
Police are also encouraging those who mail checks to use gel impact pens, which contain an ink that is difficult to erase through the washing method where thieves use acetone to erase existing text and alter the payee and monetary value.
Suspicious activity at any mailbox should be immediately reported to 911. Glue, tapes or other sticky substances should be reported to the Inspection Service at 212-330-2400 and mail theft should be reported to the local precinct and the USPS hotline at 877-876-2455.