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2 Arrested for Mail 'Fishing' in Rego Park Amid Spike in Thefts, NYPD Says

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | October 24, 2017 12:27pm

QUEENS — A pair of young men were caught trying to steal items from a Rego Park mailbox amid a rash of "fishing" incidents in the area this year, police said.

A witness called police after seeing saw the two Bronx residents, Franklin Santos, 18, and Addeli Mena, 21, trying to remove items from a USPS mailbox at the corner of 64th Road and 99th Street at 2:50 a.m. on Oct. 13, officials said.

One of the suspects was caught holding a bottle soaked in glue with a string tied to it, which he was using to try to "fish" mail out of the box, authorities said.

READ MORE: Here Are the Tools Thieves Use to 'Fish' Items Out of Mailboxes, Police Say

It appears the men were unable to snatch anything from the mailbox before police arrived, authorities said. 

Santos also had five plastic bags containing marijuana on him, while Mena had two, according to the criminal complaint.

The suspects were both charged with possession of burglary tools, attempted petit larceny and unlawful possession of marijuana, court records show.

They were released and are due back in court on Dec. 5, according to the Queens District Attorney's office.

Information about Mena’s lawyer was not immediately available. Santos’ attorney declined to comment.

As of last week, there had been 16 mail-fishing incidents in the 112th Precinct for the year to date, compared to just one in 2016.

Deputy Inspector Robert Ramos, the precinct's commanding officer, warned that residents should take their mail directly to their closest post office, drop it off as close to the last collection time as possible and use a Uni-ball 207 gel pen to write checks, because its ink adheres to the paper and forgers can't bleach it.

Otherwise, "they have a blank check of yours and they write that check out to whatever amount they want to," he said at a recent community council meeting.

In January, police arrested three suspects for stealing checks and money orders from a Forest Hills mailbox.

In an attempt to prevent future mail-fishing scams, the USPS has begun installing redesigned mailboxes that replace the customary drop-down opening with a slot for letters.

It was not immediately clear whether such mailboxes are planned for the Rego Park and Forest Hills area. 

The USPS did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.