The check-theft trend continues on the Upper West Side, and thieves seem to be getting even more brazen. One of the latest heists was also the largest in the neighborhood. Someone swiped five checks from a mailbox right outside the Planetarium Post Office at 127 West 83rd Street. The thief “washed” the checks, erasing the ink, and wrote new ones for a total of $53,000, according to the 20th precinct.
Captain Timothy Malin, commanding officer of the precinct, said that it’s not clear whether this was another case of “mail fishing,” a crime that has plagued the Upper West Side and other neighborhoods for years. “Mail fishing” is a tactic where a thief drops a sticky item attached to a string into a mailbox to lift letters back out. If it wasn’t mail fishing, it may have been a case of a thief using a key to get in, Malin said.
The U.S. Postal Service has been aiding in the investigation, and working on preventing further such crimes by installing new mailboxes with smaller doors, so that thieves can’t fish as easily. But those updated boxes aren’t set to arrive until October at the earliest. Until then, Malin recommends dropping all of your mail inside the post office.
Here’s a list of the boxes that thieves have hit in the 20th precinct this year. “It’s everywhere,” said Malin.