(WSVN) - Rain, sleet and snow can’t stop the mail, but crooks sure can. One South Florida business is getting hit by mail crooks again and again, but does law enforcement have to investigate? It’s why one frustrated South Floridian called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
For some people, the light never goes on. For Diego, they never go off.
Diego Fernandez, owner, Powerhouse Lighting: “People want to have their lighting.”
Diego owns Powerhouse Lighting, where he makes homes and businesses glow, inside and out.
Diego Fernandez: “Everybody that walks in just sees a warehouse from the outside, but when they walk in here, I see their faces, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, where am I?'”
That’s the bright side of his building in Allapattah.
Then there is the dark side.
Diego Fernandez: “I’ve been having a major issue with mail theft.”
Thanks to his surveillance cameras, he has months of videos catching the mail crooks on camera.
Diego Fernandez: “I’ve seen them with machetes trying to pry open the mailbox.”
Watch this couple. Not the brightest bulbs. Neither wears a mask as she plays lookout and her sidekick uses a tool to steal from the locked mailbox.
Diego Fernandez: “The detective told me that they call it ‘phishing.’ They even have a term for it.”
Coming up on a scooter, renting a truck to rip him off, strolling up without a care in the world.
After the thefts, the criminals commit the next crime.
Diego Fernandez: “From credit card fraud to bank fraud, even unemployment fraud. I mean, you name it.”
They steal checks sent to Diego and change his name to their name.
Diego Fernandez: “They were able to cash the check, $8,000 check.”
They also snatch checks Diego sends to suppliers, print new ones and cash them.
Diego Fernandez: “It’s caused all kinds of issues.”
One time, a sharp bank teller spotted a phony check and police arrested the crook, but nothing happened.
Diego Fernandez: “They just basically get a slap on the wrist, and I was really upset with that.”
Diego says he’s not the only one. Other businesses near him also get hit. Look at this guy who got a letter from a mailbox across the street and then comes to see what Diego has to offer.
Diego Fernandez: “It’s like the mailman, but instead of dropping out, he’s picking up.”
Diego has asked the police to stake out the warehouses. They say they can’t.
Diego Fernandez: “I’ve called the postal inspector at least three times. I’ve left messages; I get emails back, ‘Somebody will call you back.’ Not one call as of today.”
Stamp Diego disappointed.
Diego Fernandez: “I’m frustrated, I’m beyond frustrated.”
Well, Howard, stealing mail is a crime, but does law enforcement have to investigate?
Howard Finkelstein: “Law enforcement can choose how to allocate their resources. Murder, rape and other crimes come before someone breaking into your mailbox, but there is a postal inspector, and since mail theft is a federal and state crime, it’s their job to go after the crooks. However, again, they are overwhelmed with mail theft, so they also have to pick and choose.”
We contacted the Postal Service. They then met with Diego. He gave them his videos, and he says they told him it was a gang that was coming after many business owners in his area.
A U.S. mail fraud rep told us, “We cannot make any comments about this matter since this is an active and ongoing investigation.”
Diego Fernandez: “So happy that I called Help Me Howard.”
Happy because after the Postal Service started investigating, the mail thefts stopped.
Diego Fernandez: “It was a lot of red tape, but now I’ve gotten attention, I’ve gotten calls, and it’s made a difference. As a matter of fact, it’s even stopped. I think thieves know, these criminals, because in the last few weeks, I have not had any issues.”
Glad the thefts have stopped, Diego. Now, if you have the same problem, and the crooks keep breaking into a locked mailbox, you might want to try picking up your mail at the post office or a private mailbox business.
Got a problem you’d like to return to sender? Don’t know who to address it to? Send it special delivery to us, and let us stamp out the problem.
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