Bloomfield TownshipJuly 2, 2012
Police caution residents about leaving checks, valuables in outgoing mail
By Robin Ruehlen
C & G Staff Writer
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Police have a message for township residents who send checks and cash via snail mail: Do not use your home mailbox.
Lt. Mark Paquin said there have been six incidents of stolen mail in the past four months in which crooks saw a raised mailbox flag as a signal to rifle through the outgoing mail for money.
“They are either washing the checks themselves, which takes off the printable ink, and making the checks out to whomever and for whatever amount, or they take the routing number of off the checks and use it to open fraudulent lines of credit,” he said.
“Our advice to residents is to not use your home mailbox to send out items with money or personal information. Bring it to a U.S. Post Office mailbox instead.”
Last month, a Bloomfield Township resident in the 5600 block of Roundhill Drive reported that several outgoing checks were stolen from his mailbox, subsequently altered and cashed at various banks in the metro Detroit area for in excess of $28,000. A resident in the 1500 block of Sodon Lake also told police that an outgoing check was recently stolen from his mailbox and was later was altered and cashed at a local bank for more than $7,000.
Bloomfield Hills resident Lisa Longe wrote in an email that she had two pieces of mail stolen from her own mailbox in March — one containing a greeting card, the other, a gift receipt — that were both mailed to Naples, Fla.
“Each piece was mailed on separate days. Neither piece arrived in Naples. I contacted the Bloomfield Township Post Office and notified them. They thought it was a processing error in Naples,” she wrote.
“They had me contact the processing center and then the postmaster general. Nothing could be done, of course. The point I want to make is — to the thieves the ‘card’ is an obvious target, since they often contain money or gift cards.”
Paquin said raised mailbox flags are an automatic indicator for the bad guys to stop and take a look.
“It’s unfortunate in this day and age that people can’t use the mailboxes in front of their own homes,” he said.
Anyone with information regarding the recent mail theft can call Bloomfield Township Police at (248) 433-7752.
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