A Fair Lawn police detective nailed two different people in connection with the thefts of checks that residents mailed outside the Radburn Post Office.
In each case, the checks never made it to their destinations and were cashed by someone else, Sgt. Brian Metzler said.
Detective Paul Donohue made arrests in both.
Michelle Rivera, 18 of Paterson, was charged with theft by deception after claiming that she gave her bank card to an unidentified person who wanted to cash one of the checks.
Gilbert Acevedo, 21, of Paterson, was charged with the same offense after admitting that he was paid $300 to cash another check for an unidentified person.
Donohue has a knack for this.
Last month, he arrested two women accused of cashing checks fished from drop boxes.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is investigating the widespread rash of theft, most of which come from boxes outside post offices in various towns.
Thieves who once used wire and adhesive to fish envelopes from the boxes are now simply prying them open and snatching bundles of mail.
Glen Rock has been particularly hard hit, along with Englewood, Fair Lawn, Mahwah, Maywood, New Milford, Oradell and other North Jersey towns.
Thieves stole one Glen Rock resident’s $2,503 mortgage payment and another’s identity, as well as $1,788 in checks mailed by a Ridgewood woman, after breaking into the mailbox outside the post office there.
Police throughout North Jersey are urging citizens to go into their local post offices to mail anything of value.
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, thefts continue to increase at an alarming rate.
If you see someone fishing or tampering with a mailbox or sitting in a car parked for a long time near one, contact your local police department immediately. Or call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Hotline at (877) 876-2455 .
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