Columbus police investigating mail theft and check forgery

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CrimeTracker 10 has obtained police reports which show officers are investigating several thefts from blue post office drop boxes in the Clintonville area in north Columbus.

United States Postal Service Inspectors aren't talking about how thieves may have compromised the drop boxes, but the crimes are costing victims money.

Jannet Manczak said she put a check in the mail and was later shocked to discover someone had altered it and cashed it to the tune of $800.

"I was pretty mad and freaked out," Manczak said.

Another victim told police thieves altered at least two checks he mailed in the drop box cashed out at more than $3,800.

The Postal Service says you can protect your outgoing mail by handing it directly to your mail carrier, or mailing it inside the post office.

USPS said you should never send cash or coins in the mail, and suggested asking your bank for "secure" checks that are more difficult to alter.

Police are also investigating thefts of packages from porches in southeast Columbus.

Donavan Collins lives in the Williams Creek neighborhood. He said he installed a smart security camera outside his home less than a week before thieves showed up on his front porch.

The camera alerted Collins cell phone when the mail carrier delivered the package at around 2:40 p.m. on September 5. About a half hour later, the camera captured these images of two people stealing the package off the porch.

Collins said the camera sent an alert to his phone, but he missed his chance to report the crime in progress.

"At the time I was in a meeting and couldn't get to it in time but I saw it afterwards," said Collins.

Police say to protect your deliveries, ask a trusted neighbor or family member to retrieve a package the moment it's delivered. If you don't have the luxury of a smart security camera, police say have your package delivered at a pick up location. Collins said he's taking that extra step despite the security camera on the front of his house.

"It does kind of inconvenience you, but it's not the end of the world," reasoned Collins.

The United State Postal Service has created a free service called Informed Delivery to help protect mail delivered to your mailbox. The service lets you see what will be in your mailbox that day by providing members with an email each morning with actual size black and white images of the front side of the letters and cards to be delivered.