Columbus police warn of thieves targeting mail outside US Postal Service

USPS dropbox

COLUMBUS -- While there have been warnings that thieves may steal mail from right in front of homes with relative ease, it is much more difficult to take it from the post office.

That, however, is not deterring them as of late.

Recent reports to Columbus Police show thieves are targeting mail dropped off in official USPS drop boxes.

“The next morning, I got up and checked my account and printed off the check and saw the person’s name and where they had altered the amount,” Janet Manczak, a Columbus woman, said. She spoke with CrimeTracker 10 about the day after she learned her mail was stolen from the familiar blue box in front of the Clintonville US postal service branch at 2804 N. High St.

“I was pretty mad an freaked out because I had just $800 in my account,” she said. Manczak said even the bank teller was surprised to hear how her original check was taken.

“She read my statement and she said: 'Wait a minute, you mean you put this at the mailbox in front of the post office?'" Manczak recalled with a slight laugh.

Manczak said the officer who took her report told her there’s been a recent uptick in thefts from mailboxes outside post offices.

CrimeTracker 10 found five reports since the beginning of August 2017:

  • Reported on 9/5/17 from a private residence for mail reported stolen from 4360 N. High St.: My paper check written to insurance company was cashed; but someone "whited out" the insurance company and printed what looks to be "________". The check was for $629. The check was written on 8/1/2017, but cashed on 8/07/2017. I believe I dropped the envelope in the mail box at the post office located at the corner of High Street and Henderson Road. I think I mailed it on Sunday, August 6th, and it was cashed the very next day

  • Reported on 8/24/17 from 2804 N. High St.: I mailed check #310 from Chase Bank to ___________ for $120.21 on 8/14 from the post office mailbox at the 2800 block of North High St. Someone by the name of _______ altered the check to himself for $800.00 and cashed it on 8/23/17. I learned recently that mail was stolen from the mailbox at the location that the check was mailed from.

  • Reported on 8/24/17 from 4364 N. High St.: Bundle of mail delivered to drop box Sunday 4 pm behind post office at Henderson and High St containing bill payments for my business, my wife's personal account and my son's personal accounts were stolen. Checks altered and cashed. This report is for two checks from my business account altered and cashed for $2,815.86 by a ­­­­­­­­___________ and by a _______ for $986.50.

  • Reported on 8/22/17 from a private residence for mail reported stolen from 4360 N. High St.: I mailed a check payment for a bill to _________ on August 6, 2017 at the large blue post office boxes behind the Beechwold Post Office on North High Street & Henderson Road. Today, August 22, 2017 at 6:30 AM that check appeared in my online statement and the check had been whited out and changed. It was very difficult to read the name of the person who the check was made out to but it looked like ________ and they changed the amount from the original $200.80 to $1,200.80.

  • Reported on 8/21/17 from 4364 N. High Street: We deposited two checks made out to Medicare (both written for $200.80) at the Beechwold branch Post Office. They were in separate envelopes. When we opened an on-line banking site for the Huntington Bank to review our checking account on August 18, both checks were listed as withdrawn from our account, but for $958.80 and $973.80. Copies of the original checks revealed that the payee was altered from Medicare to ________ . Both checks were deposited in a Huntington Account listed for ________ .

CrimeTracker 10 contacted the US Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement, crime prevention and security arm of the Postal Service. Spokeswoman Kathy Woliung could not release details of how the mailboxes might have been tampered with since the investigation is ongoing.

However, she provided advice on what people should do if they see someone suspicious lurking near a mailbox or stealing mail.

  • If you see a mail thief at work, call police immediately, then report it to the Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455 (press 2)
  • If you see any suspicious substance, such as glue or other sticky product on a mailbox or mail receptacle, please contact your local Post office to report it, and notify Postal Inspectors.
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