Police and postal inspectors investigating 'considerable' number of mail thefts citywide

If you’ve dropped a bill in a blue USPS mailbox recently you may want to make sure it ended up in the right hands. Philadelphia police and the United States Postal Inspection Service are investigating a series of mail thefts in neighborhoods across the city.

FOX 29 interviewed a South Philly woman who didn’t want to be identified but she did want to tell her story so others don’t get ripped off just by walking to the mailbox.

"I don’t have a computer. I don’t do the big phone. I have a flip phone," she told FOX 29.

The retired senior says she wrote a personal check for $178 to her health care provider and dropped it in a USPS collection box on the corner of Schley Street and Lanvale Place in Packer Park. A week later she received a phone call from the fraud department at Wells Fargo Bank informing her they suspected the check had been "washed" and rewritten in the name of someone else for the amount of $8,522. The check was never cashed.

She’s not the only one. Philadelphia police tell FOX 29 thieves are stealing checks from blue collection boxes, using chemicals to wash off the ink, and then rewriting checks for cash. 
Philadelphia police say she is one of a "considerable" number of mail theft victims from South, West and Northeast Philly.  

The U.S. Postal Inspection Services tells us a dedicated team is working to figure out if the thefts are part of an organized ring.

"I’d like to fall right through the floor because that’s a lot of money for somebody who is living on a fixed income," the victim said.

She says she wasn’t the only victim. She knows of 4 other neighbors whose checks were stolen recently when the collection box was found wide open one morning last month.  The woman adds she's glad the bank caught the fraud before forking out money.

"Eight grand. I mean what makes them think I have $8,000 That I could just let them have. If they put so much of their talents into finding a good job maybe they wouldn’t have to do this kind of stuff"

Postal inspectors say the best way to protect your mail from being stolen is to drop mail in the boxes close to the last pick-up time posted on the collection box and never on the weekend. Inspectors say almost all collection box thefts happen at night. If your mail was stolen make sure you report it to postal inspectors.

If you need to report a theft, please click here.



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