WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Police said they're cracking down on mail fishing crimes Uptown, making a dozen arrests in recent months by adding hidden cameras and plainclothes officers to patrol mailboxes that are known targets.
Officers have made arrests on 218th Street and Park Terrace West, 215th Street and Indian Road, and Bennett Avenue and Academy Street, said the 34th Precinct's Deputy Inspector Reymundo Mundo at Wednesday's precinct council meeting.
Many of those arrested have "given us information about others who are involved in this," Mundo said.
Mail fishing scams had increased in the area, which was why police had to install NYPD cameras to help with the investigation, Mundo said.
The precinct is also working closely with the U.S. Postal Inspection office, Mundo said, adding that the agency stated it would continue to retrofit mailboxes in the area to deter mail fishing crimes.
“You’re going to see more and more mailboxes being changed, but it’s for our safety and the safety of our mail,” Mundo said.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced earlier this year that it had installed seven new tamper-free mailboxes Uptown, hoping to prevent future “mail fishing” scams. The mailboxes are retrofitted to seal shut the customary "snorkel," or drop-down opening and replace it with a slot for letters, officials said.
Several residents reported the 218th Street and Park Terrace mailbox to inspectors last year, stating there was a sticky substance capturing envelopes and other parcels.
Donna Harris, a spokeswoman for U.S. Postal Inspection, said there were no additional details to provide about arrests or investigative strategies in the area at this time.
"Postal Inspectors never discuss their investigative techniques, so I have no information to share on cameras in the area," she said.
Mundo said he couldn't elaborate on where the cameras where installed, but did emphasize that the new approach helped the precinct make several arrests.