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Sunnyside Mailboxes Hit by Thieves, NYPD Takes Steps to Combat Problem

USPS Mail Box at 43rd Avenue and 46th Street (QueensPost)

Dec. 6, 2018 By Christian Murray

Several U.S. Postal Service mailboxes in Sunnyside have been hit by mail fishers in recent months, and the 108th Precinct announced last week that it has taken steps to stop these crafty crooks.

Thieves have been focusing heavily on the blue mailboxes on 43rd and Skillman Avenues between 43rd and 48th Streets, police said. Similar activity has also occurred on Greenpoint Avenue near 41st Street.

Police say the perpetrators have been attaching glue-covered bottles to pieces of string to fish out mail from inside the mailboxes. They then pull out checks, white wash them, and rewrite the checks for large sums.

“We have had a few hits on the boxes [along 43rd Avenue] in the past month,” said an officer with the 108 Precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit at the monthly precinct meeting last week.

Two residents have notified the Sunnyside Post of their mail being fished out of boxes on 43rd Avenue in recent weeks.

One woman’s mail was fished out of the mailbox at the corner of 43rd Avenue and 46th Street, with checks modified and made out to a new payee.

Another resident’s mail was fished out near 44th Street.

But Sunnyside is not alone in its recent bout of mail fishing, with several Queens neighborhoods also experiencing a big uptick in this type of crime, according to a representative from the Queens District Attorney’s office, who spoke at the precinct meeting. “Some say this is the new form of drug dealing,” the office said.

There have been approximately 700 incidents of mailbox fishing so far this year in the eight precincts that make up Patrol Borough Queens North, which spans from Astoria and Long Island City to Flushing.

In 2017, the number in the same Queens North areas was about 200, according to the NYPD.

To combat mail fishing, the 108th Precinct now has security cameras aimed at several mailboxes, where it is able to capture video of the perpetrators. Additionally, the police put together a list this month of Sunnyside businesses—and the owner’s contact information–that have cameras by mailboxes.

Furthermore, in recent weeks, several blue mailboxes have been retrofitted in the area. Some of the boxes, which had pull down handles so the mail could be easily inserted, have been replaced by those with narrow slots. These make it tougher for fishing.

Mailboxes on 43rd Avenue have been Retrofitted with new slots this month

“We have also been doing overnight operations and surveillance,” said Captain Roger Sankerdial, Executive Officer of the 108 Precinct, at the meeting.

There have already been two high-profile mail fishing arrests in Queens last month.

Travis Everett was arrested after he was caught mailbox fishing at 63rd Drive and 108th Street in Rego Park on Nov. 8. When cops nabbed him, they found nearly 400 pieces of mail in his car.

The mail included checks valued at approximately $400,000.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 28, two men were caught while fishing from a mailbox in Richmond Hill. They were also linked via video surveillance to mail fishing incidents in Forest Hills.

Sankerdial, however, recommends that residents avoid putting checks in the mail whenever possible, and pay online.

Furthermore, if people have to mail checks, he said, they should go directly to the post office—or at least use a box with a narrow slot.

“We are trying to spread the word right now,” Sankerdial said. “This is the time when people send checks to their grand kids for the holidays.”

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30 Comments

Florence Kennedy

I believe you, sorry u went hrough that…the bank tellers don’t care anymore…will printing “for deposit only” oh, no, I forgot, they whitewash the ckecks

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Arvin

Mind boggling how thumb tacks in a bike lane commands a police investigation and media coverage while thieves are stealing checks from mailboxes and not a peep from JVB

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VelvetKnight

You’re literally commenting on an article in the media about a police investigation, complaining about the lack of media coverage or a police investigation?

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Nom de plum

I mailed a check payment the beginning of November at 45th /Skillman which was never received in Manhattan. I was told by a mailman in the usps truck that mail has been missing, people are fishing out nail and they have cameras watching the mailboxes. My bank told me to watch online to see which checks are missing or have been tampered with immediately and the bank will not pay it. Demand they change the nailboxes with the bes ooenungs. They are ALL OVER Manhattan

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Anonymous

I pay with checks any time I go to any doctor. It provides additional proof of payment. I can see paying for legal fees, sending money to school instead of cash, etc… There are still many situations that the check is the best option of payment. Not every small business is tech savvy. Also I send cash when I owned someone money or Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews which are across the USA. I have a PayPal account but you want them to have that physical token as gift vs some transfer between one account and another.

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Burn

That is my mailbox!!! 46th & 43rd… Such a shame. Big companies we entrust with our names and numbers get hacked, now this. Yeah, nothing new, but still it errodes our sense safety, and trust. Whatever is left of it. Now I send my mail from work, or drop off at the post office on 44th.

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Florence Kennedy

Me too…however, I dropped my mail on Wednesday at 44th Street. into the outgoing mailbox (which does have a Large Slot…after leaving, I felt uncomfortable because, SNAIL mail fishers can easily wear a Mask and fish all nite after the post office staff leave at 4PM DAILY…YOU CAN’T EVEN TRUST ONLINE PAYMENTS. I WAS HACKED A NUMBER OF TIMES. do SUNNYSIDE, NY

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Guest

Who mails checks for rent/credit card/etc? Seriously, stop practicing last century’s habits and get rid of these mailboxes already. Also, for checks, call your banks and tell them you don’t want any convenience or balance transfer offers, and if they send one without your request you cannot be made responsible if someone uses those. Sign up to eliminate those stupid pre-selected offers here: https://www.optoutprescreen.com

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Anonymous

Very often, YES, in this Century it is necessary for our SNAIL mail to show the “posted date!!! do, sunnyside

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Sunnyside Resident

This happened to me in Sunnyside with my rent check this month. Someone used white-out to replace our landlord’s name with their own. We noticed, reported it to our bank and printed a copy of the cashed check and tried to file a police report at the local precinct in LIC. They didn’t care and refused to let us file a report.

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B

This happened to me in early 2017. Skillman and 47th mailbox I think. The perp whitewashed my check and made it out to $420 in cash. The cop working the desk at our precinct turned me away and told me it was a postal service issue. The post office turned me away and told me it was a police matter.

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Anonymous

It happened to me. Someone went to bank and cashed it without any alterations. I put it in the box around 10/23 and didn’t realize till a month later when I got a statement saying that I have outstanding balance.

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Black Forest Iced Cake

This problem has been going on for about 2 years now. I was a victim of it in Jackson Hts. and several of my neighbors were, also. We all reported these crimes and begged the post office to convert the “pull-down doors” to the “slit openings”. Nothing has ever been done. The problem continues. Shame on the P.O. for not keeping our mail safe.

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A.Bundy

use positive pay or other check verification techniques. the bank will immediately flag it since it wont match the info sent to the bank about the check at the time of issuance. then have the bank guard detain the thief until the FBI gets there, since it’s a federal crime to tamper with post boxes. haha! enjoy federal prison for life. haha!

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Florence Kennedy

I believe you, sorry u went hrough that…the bank tellers don’t care anymore…will printing “for deposit only” oh, no, I forgot, they whitewash the ckecks

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Sunnysideposthatesme

that’s what happens when you go all over the media saying Long Island City is where the money is.

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Ancient Pyramids Scheme Group

If Long Island City “is where the money is” then why are they here in Sunnyside?

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David

Yeah I noticed glue on the door of the mailbox at 46th St. I guess I better call my bank and see if any of my checks are missing. Ugh.

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stan chaz

It’s NOT a question of checks necessarily becoming missing. They change the check itself, the payee and amount, to pay themselves. Banks should be much more careful in cashing checks. especially if they seem altered, Monitor your checking account online if you can, for suspicious amounts paid out , and check that all bills that you paid by mail have been paid, just to make sure.
Usually you need to wait until the next bill comes to check, but you can also call the business in question.

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Anonymous

all of these mail boxes are suppose to be changed why isn’t Mr. JVB doing anytime about this –

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Anonymous

Because JVB is to busy trying to screw around with the amazon deal. He would rather stand in the rain and protest than actually help and do something constructive.

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