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image of blue USPS freestanding mail boxIn recent months, police in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, White Plains, Tarrytown, Harrison, Purchase, Bronxville, New Rochelle, North Castle and other communities have been investigating incidents where

  • Curbside mailboxes have been broken into either forcibly or by using a stolen key
  • Curbside mailboxes have been stolen outright
  • Thieves have used fishing techniques to take mail out of mailboxes
  • Household rural-style mailboxes have been emptied of their contents

The victims
All of us who use the U.S. Mail are victims. In some cases, residents were accused of not paying their bills on time when checks were stolen. Some have reported being victims of identity theft. Others who sent money orders, which work like cash, lost the stolen money and still owed their recipient with no way to recoup the payment. If you think you have been the victim of mail theft report it to your local police department and your local post office.

The outcome
Thieves take checks or financial documents with personal identifying information which can be used for identity theft and financial fraud. In some cases, checks are “washed,” meaning cleaned and erased of original information, and the “Payable to” or payable amount or both are changed. They are then cashed or fraudulently deposited in someone else’s account. Several arrests have been made.

Tips to protect yourself from mail theft

  • Do not place checks in mailboxes. Use online payment instead.
  • If you use a curbside mailbox, do not put mail in box after the last pickup time for the day.
  • If your mail has not arrived at its destination, report it to your local police department and your local post office.
  • Write checks with gel-style ink that cannot be erased or “washed” like ink from a standard ballpoint pen.
  • Check your credit card and bank statements daily for any unusual activity.
  • If you think you have been the victim of fraud, the Federal Trade Commission strongly suggests you set up a “Fraud Alert” with credit bureaus. Follow the FTC's instructions.

The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office will continue to work with local law enforcement and postal inspectors to both protect our residents from this kind of criminal activity and aggressively prosecute those involved.