CHICAGO (CBS) – Mailbox thieves are targeting the West Loop and a number of victims have come forward claiming their mail was stolen.
As CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza reported on Thursday, some victims lost a lot of money.
We’re hearing multiple reports of stolen mail and mailbox break-ins in the West Loop, where people have dropped off mail — sometimes valuable mail — with costly consequences.
Imagine sending a check for $63.84 in the mail and thousands of dollars disappearing from your bank account. It happened to a woman named Chelsea, who had two zeros added to that $63.84 figure that she didn’t allow at all.
“I realized there was a withdrawal of $6,300.84,” Chelsea said.
Chelsea sent a check to a mailbox at Randolph and Elizabeth streets. As she spoke with us, she pulled out a picture of her cashed check, pointing out another big problem.
“It was written to Carl someone,” said Chelsea. “I don’t know anyone named Carl.”
Someone tampered with Chelsea’s handwriting. She filed a fraud complaint and eventually got her money back.
“Someone broke into the mail, took my check and altered it,” she said.
She also sent her grandfather a birthday card that day. It never happened.
Chelsea’s story appears to be part of a larger trend of misplaced mail in the West Loop.
“At this point in the game, people really need to take responsibility for their valuables,” said Julie Darling of community organization West Loop.
Demetrius Bournias witnessed something fishy in a postbox on Adams and Sangamon streets during a 2am walk with his dog on Wednesday.
“At first I thought it was a postman or something to pick up the mail,” Bournias said, “but obviously it was something else.”
Bournias saw a man approach with a mail key, take what was inside the mailbox, and run to a waiting car – not a mail truck, a car. As he walked away, the person threw a letter out the window.
“I guess they searched all the valuables in there,” he said. “They probably took it before throwing it out the window.”
Those valuables could include things like the $63 check turned into $6,300 from Chelsea.
“It could be someone’s lights. It could be someone’s power. It could be food for a family,” Chelsea said.
We contacted the United States Postal Inspection Service – whose public information officer, Silvia Carrier, issued this statement:
“We recommend that customers watch the final collection time indicated on the collection boxes located outside and avoid leaving mail overnight in a collection box which could be compromised. Mail can be left in boxes inside a post office that provide more security for the mail.
“The success of our investigations often correlates with the speed with which victims are reported. As such, I urge any victim of mail theft to contact local law enforcement and the Postal Inspection Service as soon as possible so that we can better investigate the crime and hold these If a postal customer is the victim of mail theft or identity theft as a result of mail theft, they should immediately file a report with local law enforcement, file a report with the Postal Inspectorate at 877-876-2455and closely monitor their financial accounts and credit profiles to stay ahead of any fraudulent activity.”
Carrier also advised visiting the USPIS website and the Chicago Division Twitter.