ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — Attleboro’s police chief is warning residents to avoid using two mailboxes in the city after close to three dozen mail thefts were reported between them.
Since Oct. 1, there have been 21 thefts at the mailbox at 901 Pleasant St. and more than a dozen at the mailbox outside the South Attleboro Post Office on Newport Avenue, according to Chief Kyle Heagney.
He said while thousands of dollars have been stolen so far, he expects more people were affected and they just don’t know it yet.
“I’m sure there’s more victims out there,” Heagney said, adding that they won’t know until their bills go unpaid, collection agencies call, or they notice money missing from their bank accounts.
Joe Moniz of Attleboro is one of those victims, and he didn’t know until he got a call from his credit card company.
“I write out my checks Sunday, my bills on a Sunday and go to the post office, drop them off and say bye-bye. But this time, it never got it never got where it was supposed to,” he said. “I dropped off a letter at the post office with a bill to Capital One and two weeks later, I got a call from Capital One saying that they had not received my payment.”
Moniz called his bank and was told the check was cashed online. He said he dropped the check in the Pleasant Street mailbox on a Sunday, and by Monday it had been cashed.
“When I asked them who cashed it, they said, ‘Oh, it was an online account.’ But why would you cash it, because I made it out to Capital One?,” he asked. “[They replied] ‘well, when it’s online, we don’t look at the front of it or who’s endorsed.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s funny. Why endorse it to anybody?'”
Moniz got his money back within a few weeks, but said he’ll no longer be sending checks in the mail.
“My kids always told me, ‘Dad, why are you sending checks in the mail?’ I said because I’m old-school,” he added. “They say, ‘Dad you need to get up with the times,’ so that’s what I did!”
Heagney believes the thefts are happening at night and asked residents to be vigilant and keep an eye out for suspicious activity like someone lingering around a mailbox for more than a few minutes.
Heagney said the investigation is “very active” and being handled by Attleboro police and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
In a statement to 12 News, the USPIS assured the U.S. Mail “remains one of the most secure means of transmitting personal information.”
“Every day, the U.S. Postal Service safely and efficiently delivers millions of checks, money orders, credit cards, and merchandise,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, such items are also attractive to thieves. That’s why Postal Inspectors across the country are at work to protect our customer’s mail.”
The USPIS shared the following tips on how to protect your mail:
- Hand outgoing mail to your letter carrier, or use a secure receptacle inside your Post Office or workplace.
- Never send cash or coins in the mail; use checks or money orders. Ask your bank for “secure” checks that are more difficult to alter.
- If you see a suspicious substance such as glue or another sticky product on a mailbox or mail receptacle, notify the USPIS by calling 877-876-2455 or submitting a complaint online.