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DV Pilot police & fire

Mailbox 'Fishing' Thefts Continue -- This Time In Mahwah

400 Franklin Turnpike, Mahwah
400 Franklin Turnpike, Mahwah Photo Credit: Googlemaps

Rampant mailbox thefts in North Jersey continued in Mahwah when deposits were fished from three boxes outside the post office and another on Franklin Turnpike sometime overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, authorities said.

Police Chief James N. Batelli urged anyone who deposited anything in these mailboxes that contained personal identifying information -- such as Social Security numbers or credit card or banking information -- sometime Tuesday to file a report with his department.

"In addition, you should contact your local bank, credit card companies and credit reporting agencies as soon as possible," he said.

The chief also asked that anyone who might have seen anything suspicious near the tampered mailboxes contact Detective Lt. Guido Bussinelli at (201) 529-1000, ext 218 .Mahwah police "also have a contact sheet containing phone numbers to contact various reporting agencies should you need one," Batelli said.

As the number of incidents of thieves fishing envelopes containing checks and cash from various free-standing mailboxes, police everywhere are urging citizens to go inside their local post offices to mail money.

They also warn against placing any mail in a free-standing box at night or on a holiday or weekend because it will end up sitting there awhile.

Although stealing mail is a federal crime that carries a prison term of up to five years for a conviction, "fishers" have grown in number over the decades.

The more common tools are hardly sophisticated: Sometimes it's nothing more than a weighted line covered with reversed duct tape or rat-trap glue.

There have also been reports of bandits taping pillowcases inside the mouths of mailboxes and later pulling the sacks out like Santa Claus.

The thieves pocket any cash or alter any checks they find, then deposit the money in their own accounts. They can also retrieve information to steal identities, authorities say.

In some areas, the U.S. Postal Service has rigged mailboxes with teeth-like devices of their own aimed at foiling the fishers.

Meanwhile, federal inspectors are working with borough police to identify and catch the thieves.

If you see someone fishing or tampering with a mailbox or sitting in a car parked for a long time near one, contact your local police department immediately.

Or call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Hotline at (877) 876-2455 .

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