Officials in Yonkers have become the latest to call on the United States Postal Service to address the recent spate of mailbox fishing and theft incidents throughout the Hudson Valley.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and Police Commissioner Charles Gardner gathered this week on South Broadway to call on the USPS, citing more than 80 reported incidents of theft in the city and nearly $700,000 that were withdrawn from bank accounts belonging to Yonkers residents this year alone.
“While our Yonkers Police Department and the Westchester County District Attorney's Office works hard with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on these issues, we encourage residents to deposit mail at the post office or hand deliver mail directly to their mail carrier when possible,” Spano said.
Mail theft has become a recurring problem in the Hudson Valley, with more than a dozen municipalities in the region reporting incidents, including several that were caught on camera. Most recently, Bronxville announced the arrests of eight alleged thieves - all from the Bronx - who were busted following a weeks-long investigation.
Recently appointed Westchester Postal Service Manager Roxanne Hosein stated that they have started to receive “positive feedback” to some of the changes being made in the area following months of complaints.
“Like any other organization that competes for customers, it is essential that we continuously look for ways to adapt and improve. Under the leadership of Westchester District Manager Richard Conte, the good news is that we are beginning to receive positive feedback on our service; but rest assured, we have more work to do. The community feedback from our ongoing outreach activities is certainly paying dividends by helping us do a better job of identifying areas of opportunity for improvement.”
Investigators also noted that residents should be aware of the potential for identity theft and late payment charges for bill payments sent through the mail. The incidents remain under investigation by police in Yonkers and nearby local law enforcement agencies.
“These incidents of outside mailbox theft appear to be a regional issue with multiple jurisdictions affected; therefore the (law enforcement) recommends that residents go directly to their local post office and drop off mail inside the postal facility or hand deliver to your carrier.”
Officials, including Rep. Nita Lowey, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Eliot Engel and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney sent a letter last week to United States Postmaster General Megan Brennan calling for the Postal Service to address theft of mail across the region.
In the letter, the officials highlighted incidents of stolen mail that resulted in financial fraud and identity theft in the Hudson Valley. “From missing payments to emptied bank accounts after thieves ‘wash’ checks pulled from collection boxes, mail theft threatens the livelihood of constituents.”
“These thefts occur daily, rapidly and significantly decreasing the reliability of the Postal Service,” they wrote. “These widespread incidents cost our constituents large sums of money and much time to remedy, not to mention the confidence and peace of mind that the Postal Service prides itself on providing.
“Mail theft threatens the livelihood of our constituents and impacts our most vulnerable populations. These thefts occur daily, rapidly and significantly decreasing the reliability of the Postal Service. Thieves are not only ‘ fishing ’ mail out of collection boxes, but are stealing the entire mailbox or using keys acquired from postal employees.”
Area law enforcement agencies have issued common sense advice to help residents avoid becoming victims of the scam:
- Consider transferring money via other methods;
- Drop mail containing checks directly at the Post Office or hand it directly to your mail carrier;
- If you use a mailbox, deposit the mail as close to the scheduled pick-up time as possible;
- When writing a check use a pen with pigmented ink that cannot be erased;
- If you see any suspicious activity around mailboxes, call the police.
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