U. S. Postal Service drop box break-ins on the rise

by Dan Holland

Drive-thru U.S. Postal Service mail drop containers have been the target of break-ins across Cuyahoga County in recent months, including occurrences in Broadview Heights.

The thefts are  being committed through the use of a master postal key, or by forcible entry into mail receptacles located at area post offices. Personal checks are often the target, with perpetrators altering the check amounts and either making mobile deposits or using others to cash the checks. Victims often don’t realize they’ve become the target of a crime until viewing their bank statements.

Between 15-20 Broadview Heights residents have fallen victim to the crime within the last few months, with combined loss amounts totaling in the tens of thousands of dollars, according to Broadview Heights Police Department Detective Jim Reasor.

“The persons cashing the checks are different in every incident,” he explained. “Those physically cashing the checks are not the check thieves themselves; they are often patsies who have been paid or duped into cashing the checks. The prosecutor’s officer isn’t even prosecuting those who cash the checks because the number of check passers are so voluminous.”

Individual checks amounts are often altered to reflect thousands of dollars. Victims should immediately contact their bank or financial institution to dispute the charges, said Reasor.

“The banks have been cooperative about making the victims whole.” he added. “The USPS recommends citizens not use the collection boxes after 5:00 pm, as final collections are made from the boxes by that time. If residents need to deposit mail after that time, the post office recommends going inside and using the indoor mail slots.”

Anyone with information related to USPS drop box thefts can contact The U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455. ∞