'Mailbox fishing’ has USPS scrambling to upgrade drop boxes

WELLELSEY, Mass. — Police in the greater Boston area are warning about thieves stealing mail from post office mailboxes you find lining the streets.

They say people have been using hand-made contraptions to steal envelopes, looking for checks to cash.

Just last month, Wellesley had to swap out their old collection boxes for newer ones that allow people to drop their mail in a small slot as opposed to opening up the mailbox.

That way it is harder for people to steal what's inside.

The United States Postal Service tells Boston 25 News they hope to do the same exchange for all mailboxes across the state.

The police in Wellesley are now going through special training with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to help spot thieves stealing your mail in the middle of the night.

"What we saw here, specifically, was glue mouse traps and string that they lower into the mailboxes," Wellesley Police Investigator Mark D'Innocenzo explained. "It's a pretty rudimentary device."

It’s called mailbox fishing and Wellesley police say the glue sticks to envelopes so they can pull it out by the string.

"I'll never use one of the mailboxes again that’s outside," a victim who only wanted to be identified as Maryann said.

New post office collection boxes now cover the Town of Wellesley after police say at least 10 mailboxes were stolen from within the past few months.

"At this day and age, nothing surprises me. There's no privacy," Wellesley resident Mary Lenihan said. "It's really too bad that people are so lazy they have to cheat."

Investigators are now warning people to write checks in gel pen, instead of ball point pen, so it cannot be washed away.

They also remind people not to drop mail into the slot after the last daily pickup time.

"Try not to mail something outdoors after the box's last collection time of the day," D'Innocenzo said. "Every box has a posted collection time, so you certainly don't want your mail sitting in the box overnight or overnight Saturday into a Sunday when it’s not going to be collected for more than 48 hours."

Police here in Wellesley say they’re currently investigating 15 to 20 open cases where people have had money stolen this way.

They say, however, they have made three arrests so far, some of the accused are facing felony charges.