WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Several U.S. Postal Service customers’ personal information may have been compromised after, authorities said, crooks took off with a mailbox outside a West Miami-Dade post office, then tried to take thousands of dollars from someone’s bank account.
7News cameras captured perplexed drivers as they searched in vain for the drop box at 8880 S.W. 8th St., Wednesday afternoon. “Where’s the mailbox?” asked the driver of a pickup truck.
Officials said the mail drop box was uprooted in the middle of the night, on Dec. 11, late Sunday into early Monday.
The mailbox’s absence was certainly noticed by Aide Helbig, who uses it on a regular basis. “It’s easier to put it right through the thing,” she said. “When I came, I said, ‘What?! What’s this? What’s in here? What happened?'”
A nearby resident’s home surveillance camera captured a four-door pickup truck driving away with the mail drop box in the bed of the vehicle. The truck was closely followed by a sedan that, postal inspectors believe, was driven by an accomplice.
Investigators said the increased number of people mailing money and gift cards during the holidays draws thieves to commit this type of crime, and it is on the rise. “There seems to be somewhat of a trend that’s happening nationwide with thieves who are trying to steal mail out of collection boxes,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Blad Rojo. “The purpose for that is to try to steal valuables, most likely checks.”
Jack Gould is at least one victim who is now asking for answers after, investigators said, the thieves drove away with thousands of dollars in his checks. “I said, ‘What, are you kidding? I mean, they stole the whole box?'” he said. “She said, ‘Yeah, that’s what they told me. The stole the whole box. “Well, P.S, they did steal the whole box.”
Gould said he found out about the theft from his bank, not investigators. “My point is, there’s tons of mail that was stolen, and nobody would know. The only reason that we knew right away is, someone put in a thing called a washed check for two grand against my account.”
“I know that he’s taking copious notes on the phone calls and all of that,” said Rojo. “I would say that we would not be giving everybody all the details of an investigation that we have going on.”
“There’s tons of mail that was stolen, and nobody would know,” said Gould.
With only one victim coming forward, so far, since the investigation began, inspectors said, it’s harder to trace a possible suspect.
And, with it being the holiday season, when mailing checks, cash and gift cards, Gould said, from now on, he’ll drop off his mail inside.
He also told 7News he’s frustrated it’s taken so long to resolve this situation. “It’s taken over three full days to straighten this out — the checks, the accounts, all these things — and we’re still not finished,” he said.
U.S. postal inspectors are offering up to a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. They also advised customers who dropped off mail at that mailbox on the weekend of Dec. 11 to come forward.
If you have any information or need to contact postal inspectors, call the U.S. Postal Inspection Hotline at 1-877-876-2455.
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