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Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
USPS mailboxes

Police are asking northeast Queens residents to refrain from using USPS mailboxes as Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck continue to be hit hard with mail fishing incidents.

According to the 111th Precinct, in July, checks have been reported stolen, washed and fraudulently cashed from U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mailboxes at Bell Boulevard and 73rd Avenue, Bell Boulevard and Horace Harding, Springfield Boulevard and Kingsbury Avenue, and Browvale Lane and Thornhill Avenue.

Checks were also reported stolen from mailboxes posted outside of the Little Neck Post Office on Northern Boulevard.

The update follows a number of previously reported mail fishing incidents within the command in recent weeks. In June, checks were reported stolen and fraudulently cashed from mailboxes at 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, with checks reported fraudulently cashed after being lifted from mailboxes at 51-60 Marathon Pkwy., the corner of Marathon Parkway and Northern Boulevard, 250-10 Northern Blvd., the corner of 73rd Avenue and Springfield Boulevard and the intersection of 64th Avenue and Springfield Boulevard.

Police are urging residents not to use mailboxes in any of these areas and instead drop off mail inside of their local post offices. Account balances should be checked frequently to ensure that there has been no suspicious activity, police said, and checks should be written with gel impact pens, which contain ink that is difficult to erase.

During mail fishing incidents, thieves attach objects dipped in a sticky substance to fishing line and drop them into USPS mailboxes. Envelopes inserted into the mailbox by residents then stick to the object and are easily pulled out by crooks.

Perpetrators then use an acetone wash to remove the ink from the stolen checks in order to alter payee and monetary value.

The USPS recently began installing security devices on the borough’s mailboxes to prevent further thefts. These improvements are making their way toward Bayside, police said, but mailboxes will not be secure again until this change takes place.

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. Police also say they are conducting plainclothes surveillance operations and patrols in marked cars near mailboxes to help deter criminals.

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