EAST HARLEM — The U.S. Postal Service appears stumped over how to stop an ongoing mail-theft spree as two more victims came forward this week, bringing the total amount stolen to more than $140,000 from a dozen-plus victims since August 2016, police said.
In the most recent case, a 47-year-old woman told police she dropped two checks totaling $23,200 — one for $7,500 and another for $15,700 — into a mailbox at East 118th Street and Pleasant Avenue between April 14 and April 28.
However, when the woman checked her bank statements, she noticed her name had been altered on the checks and they were both cashed, police said. She reported the theft on April 30.
Another victim, a 31-year-old East Harlem resident, told police he sent two money orders totaling $1,000 to his landlord from a mailbox on West 152nd Street and Broadway on Jan. 21.
He discovered the theft when his landlord did not receive the payment and the victim received copies of the money orders that showed alterations, police said. He reported the theft on April 27.
There have been numerous reports of checks and money orders being stolen from Uptown mailboxes in recent months. Authorities have identified the trend as “fishing,” in which thieves use a sticky substance to trap and later fish out the mail.
The U.S. Postal Service has already installed several retrofitted mailboxes in Washington Heights to prevent “fishing."
Donna Harris, a spokeswoman for the USPS Inspection Unit, said the agency is still investigating the thefts in East Harlem and working closely with the NYPD and local postal officials to determine the best locations for retrofitted mailboxes.
See the map below of where the thefts have been reported: