Local thief 'fishing' for mail in USPS collection boxes

neighbors collected torn mail from gutter
Posted at 5:42 PM, Nov 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-09 21:38:42-05

CLAIREMONT, Calif. (KGTV) -- A warning for the next time you drop a piece of mail in a postal collection box: a local thief may be getting creative to grab your mail.

Around 7 pm Monday, along Mt. Everest Blvd, Dennis Fipps walked a few blocks from his home and dropped off a driver's license renewal in the blue box.

The next morning, Fipps says a neighbor showed up at this door with his empty envelope.   

In all, he believes that neighbor found torn mail strewn in the gutter for 8 to 10 neighbors. "I thought 'Omigosh! The check,'" said Fipps.     

The check was made out to the DMV for $33. In the past several years, 10news has reported on stolen checks being washed: a chemical solution dissolving away the ink, allowing a thief to fill in the blanks.     

Fipps called his bank and stopped the check, then headed to the post office. "Their response was that the box had been fished," said Fipps.     

In that fishy tactic, the fishing line is often a simple string, connected to a rodent glue trap, allowing the thief to grab onto envelopes and pull them out of the collection box.    

"It's dastardly.  I'll say that much," said Fipps. Postal officials say 'fishing' is not common, but it does happen in the area. 

A spokesperson tells 10news almost all the local boxes have anti-fishing security measures, and they will now be looking at this collection box to see what went wrong. "There's an expectation of security and that has kind of been shattered," said Fipps.