Thieves pry into mailboxes across region to steal checks, personal info

Federal postal inspectors are investigating Jacksonville-area cases

By Vic Micolucci - I-TEAM reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - From Northwest Jacksonville to South Jacksonville to Fruit Cove in St. Johns County, thieves are prying into U.S. Postal Service drop boxes and business mailbox clusters, and stealing people’s cash, checks and personal information.

A federal postal inspector confirmed Tuesday that he’s investigating a number of cases.

Officials believe that the people responsible for these crimes are acting in groups, and said they’re likely from out of town. They’re known to work quickly.

The criminals caused a big problem for Anne Myers when they broke into 20 mailboxes at an office park near Philips Highway and Interstate 295. Myers’ business was affected, and her neighbors were, as well.

“It’s a hassle,” Myers said.

The crooks are often targeting group mailboxes and prying open the individual metal doors, possibly with a screwdriver or a crowbar or some similar tool. Once they get inside the mailboxes, they take whatever they find, officials said.

Often times, these thieves get away with money orders and people’s personal information.

“Whoever did this, they had to have some time on their hands,” Myers said. “Each box is pried open.”

Another woman said someone stole her company’s outgoing check, changed the name and amount on it and cashed it in for nearly $5,000. Luckily, the woman caught what had happened before the money came out of her account.

U.S. post offices are also targets. Someone has been breaking into the after-hours drop boxes in Fruit Cove and Northwest Jacksonville. Postal inspectors said the people responsible are likely transient groups seeking outgoing checks. Detectives are working several leads to shut them down.

“Whoever did this needs to be stopped,” Myers said. “It’s just awful.”

Anyone who is mailing something valuable is advised to drop it off inside an actual post office or hand it to directly a mail carrier.

Tampering with mail is a federal felony. These criminals could face a serious prison sentence, 
if they're caught.

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