For years, police and U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents have been flooded with reports of mail either fished from postal boxes or snatched after they were pried open. In several cases, cash was taken or checks cashed.
Three months ago, a resident told police two checks mailed from a postal box outside a Plymouth Park shopping center on Saddle River Road were endorsed by a stranger.
Detective Paul Donohue tracked down a 17-year-old girl from Paterson who “admitted to fishing mail out of the post box and cashing the checks using a friend’s account,” Sgt. Brian Metzler said.
Police accused her in a delinquency complaint of two counts of theft that will be heard in the Family Division of Superior Court in Hackensack.
She was released and will be charged with theft of movable property & theft by deception on a juvenile petition in family court.
In a separate case, Donohue arrested 19-year-old Dennis Marie Cordero of Haledon, who admitted being paid to cash a $150 check for someone who stole it from a box at the Radburn post office on Abbot Road.
She was released pending a hearing on theft charges.
As the number of incidents of thieves fishing envelopes containing checks and cash from various free-standing mailboxes increases, police everywhere are urging citizens to go inside their local post offices to mail money.
They also warn against placing any mail in a free-standing box at night or on a holiday or weekend because it will end up sitting there awhile.
Although stealing mail is a federal crime that carries a prison term of up to five years for a conviction, "fishers" have grown in number over the decades.
The more common tools are hardly sophisticated: Sometimes it's nothing more than a weighted line covered with reversed duct tape or rat-trap glue.
There have also been reports of bandits taping pillowcases inside the mouths of mailboxes and later pulling the sacks out like Santa Claus.
In some areas, the U.S. Postal Service has rigged mailboxes with teeth-like devices aimed at foiling the fishers.
Meanwhile, some thieves have become more brazen, prying open the boxes and snatching bundles of mail.
Besides cash and checks, they also collect information to steal identities.
ALSO SEE: Thieves stole one Glen Rock resident’s $2,503 mortgage payment and another’s identity after breaking into the mailbox outside the borough post office, police said.
ALSO SEE: Authorities were trying to determine whether two Paterson teens caught fishing mail from postal boxes in Maywood are connected to dozens of similar incidents in Bergen County.
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