Two of the new mailboxes at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street are considered higher security due to a slit for inserting mail rather than a pull-out handle. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Mailbox fishing, a type of theft aimed at stealing checks that can later be altered, has just gotten harder.
This is because the United States Postal Services is currently in the process of replacing 5,000 mail collection boxes throughout the city with higher-security models. Xavier Hernandez, a spokesperson for the USPS, said the project is being done in coordination with law enforcement agencies.
The main difference between the old boxes and new is that there is no longer a pull-down handle, but a narrow slot where letters can be inserted and dropped. Areas throughout the five boroughs that are considered “high needs” because they have been popular targets for theft, have been getting their mailboxes replaced first.
The USPS can usually tell when their collection boxes have been tampered with, because they are scratched up or have glue inside or in some cases, evidence of someone having tried to pry off the fronts. Hernandez declined to share which neighborhoods were considered high-need, explaining that thieves have managed to exploit that information. Tips on suspected theft have come from the NYPD, postal employees and customers who call if they believe they’ve had a check stolen.
The suspects allegedly used a plastic bottle covered in a sticky substance to get mail out of the mailbox.
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.
With the election coming in November, candidates for City Council as well as those canvassing for them should take note: Stuy Town is off limits.
Stuyvesant Town’s general manager Rick Hayduk said at a meeting this week held by the 13th Precinct Community Council that while door-knocking isn’t illegal in the city, it is against the “house rules” on the property.
His comment was in response to a complaint from a resident at the meeting who said door-knockers were roaming the complex before the primary election in September.
Hayduk agreed that “It was pretty rampant (during the primary).”