By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Two people were arrested after police spotted them allegedly “mailbox fishing” near Union Square last week.
Keimy Disla Medina, 24, a 17-year-old boy and another teenager were stopped in front of 353 East 17th Street on Friday, November 2 at 1:18 a.m. while they were allegedly trying to steal from a mailbox at the location.
Police said that the three suspects had rigged a plastic bottle filled with liquid that was attached to a string and covered in a sticky substance to get mail out of the mailbox. When the suspects were stopped, police said that they were found to be in possession of multiple pieces of mail not addressed to them and were allegedly in possession of burglary tools.
Medina and the teen were charged with burglar’s tools, petit larceny, criminal tampering, fraud and possession of stolen property. Police said that the second teenager was issued a juvenile report but was not arrested.
Suspects arrested for mailbox fishing by the 13th Precinct in the past have also frequently been charged with identity theft in connection with stealing checks and “washing” them to rewrite their own names to cash them for themselves.
However, police did not specify what items of mail were allegedly stolen in this recent incident.
Mailbox fishing was an especially prevalent issue within the 13th Precinct, which covers 14th to 30th Streets from Seventh Avenue to the East River, throughout 2017. Residents were reporting that checks they put in mailboxes were ultimately getting stolen.
Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney, who was the commanding officer of the precinct at the time, warned neighbors multiple times about sending checks via mailboxes, noting that some of the mail thefts were due to mail fishing but that other stolen checks were due to stolen mailbox keys.
Timoney recommended that residents avoid mailboxes that are sticky around the opening because some thieves also use rat glue traps to trap envelopes and steal checks, and advised residents not to mail checks via mailboxes at all.