2018-09-12 / Front Page

Cops Hook Forest Hills Mailbox Fisher

By Liz Goff
A 22-year-old man from The Bronx remains behind bars this week, after police spotted him swiping mail from a United States Postal Service (USPS) box in Forest Hills.

Police at the 112th Precinct were on routine patrol at about 2:30 a.m. August 24 when they saw Luis Velaquez “fishing” mail from a box near 65th Avenue and 108th Street, an NYPD spokesperson said.

“He was caught red-handed, with his fingers in the proverbial cookie jar,” a fellow officer said.

Velaquez was charged with criminal larceny, criminal tampering, criminal possession of stolen property and possession of burglar’s tools at his arraignment at Queens Criminal Court.

Precinct officials released a photo later the same day, showing items Velaquez was carrying at the time of his arrest, including a pile of envelopes and a juice bottle tied with strings – each allegedly used to steal mail from the USPS box.

Police officials have repeatedly warned New Yorkers to beware mailbox “fishers” who steal cash, credit cards and other valuable dropped in local mailboxes.

Cops said thieves coat a heavy object with a sticky substance, attach the object to a string and lower it into a mailbox. The thieves “fish” around the mailbox to retrieve letters, etc. that contain cash or checks and then “wash” checks so they can be rewritten for higher amounts, police said.

“Identity thieves use these tactics to steal information from an unsuspecting public,” a police source said.

Officials later tweeted a message to the public advising them to place checks and other secure items in USPS boxes as close as possible to listed pickup times, “or better yet inside USPS branches.”

Police are also advising the public to be on the lookout for suspicious activity at or near mailboxes.

“If you see something, say something. Call 911 immediately,” NYPD officials said.


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