PHOTO: Assemblyman Goldfeder is calling on federal law enforcement to work with area NYPD personnel to combat recent reports of mailbox fishing. Forum Photo by Michael V. Cusenza
By Michael V. Cusenza
Area law enforcement officials and U.S. Postal Inspection personnel have a message for sly fishers looking to set up shop in a neighborhood mailbox: Take your twine and sticky substances and keep it moving.
Responding to recent reports of mail theft in south Queens communities, 106th Precinct leadership and the U.S. Postal Service have vowed to crack down on crooks intent on going “mailbox fishing,” in which letters containing checks and valuable personal information are “fished out” of curbside collection boxes through the use of a makeshift rod: an adhesive attached to the end of a string or rope.
Additionally, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach) this week called on federal law enforcement to work with local NYPD precincts to stop the criminal activity. He sent a letter to U.S. Postal Inspection Service Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell, citing recent high-profile stories of suspects using the practice to fund elicit activities, as well as complaints from homeowners at the most recent Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic meeting as cause for concern.
“Mail fishing is a dangerous practice that not only robs families of their hard-earned income, but can also have serious consequences for their valuable personal information and medical records,” Goldfeder said. “Our families deserve to know that their mail is safe and their personal information is secure when they drop a letter in the mail box. I urge the Postal Police to work with our local law enforcement and reel this dangerous practice in before more families fall victim.”
USPIS Public Information Representative Donna Harris said that “the U. S. Postal Inspection Service takes all crimes against the Postal Service and its customers very seriously,” and they will work “with NYPD to apprehend the responsible parties.”
Last month, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown charged members of a borough gang for attempting to cash more than $33,500 in forged checks that they had allegedly obtained by fishing in USPS mailboxes.
At the civic meeting, Capt. James Fey, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, cautioned residents to try to deposit letters for collection early in the morning, and that these urban fishermen tend to stalk their blue-box prey on Sunday nights around midnight – when the bins are bursting with weekend mail items.