Forgery suspected after thefts of mailbox bins
10:00 PM PST on Friday, December 22, 2006By PAUL LAROCCO
A forged check has brought attention to a string of public mailboxthefts with the potential to affect scores of residents in Riversideand San Bernardino counties.
Three of the large blue boxes bolted into city sidewalks were stolenin San Bernardino over the past week, while two more have disappearedin Temecula, said Sgt. Richard Ells of the San Bernardino CountySheriff's Department.
One of the boxes was in front of the post office at 1663 E. DatePlace, near Del Rosa Avenue. Locations for the other four were notavailable Friday.
While it's unknown what became of all but once piece of the stolenmail, Ells said identity thieves are known to obtain their informationfrom mail.
"That's generally what you see when a large amount of mail is stolen," he said.
The only known incident involving any of the stolen mail occurredearlier this week. A woman who dropped a check into the box at the DelRosa post office saw that it had been cashed for more than she hadwritten it.
Following up, the woman learned the check -- addressed for Phoenix-- was cashed at a local bank. The check, Ells said, also had been madeout to Michael Thomas Leslie, a 28-year-old transient known to frequentmotels around San Bernardino.
Deputies are searching for Leslie on suspicion of forgery andpossession of stolen property, but do not know if he is involved in themailbox thefts.
"The check was stolen from the box, and it was cashed by him, so theassumption is that he's involved," Ells said. "But I supposed someonecould have dumped it and he just found it."
Sheriff's officials are only investigating the forgery portion ofthe case. The U.S. Postal Service handles thefts of federal mailboxes.
Renee Focht, a postal inspector with the Postal Service's LosAngeles Division, said thieves face five years in federal prison forevery piece of mail they're convicted of taking.
"We take this seriously," she said, "and will investigate aggressively."
Reach Paul LaRocco at 909-806-3064 or
BS Ranch Perspective:
You wonder why the people of the BS Ranch have taken up to renting a PO Box, and place the out going mail inside the Post Office, where it is less likely to get stolen, unless, God Forbid, it is a Postal Employee that has taken up stealing the mail for the small checks that are inside.
The mail outside the Ranch Properties surrounding the places here where the BS Ranch is located have had their mail stolen from the Mail Boxes. They noticed the the their mail was located up the street all torn open with the Checks and important documents gone such as the applications for Credit Cards and the like. I don't know what they will or can get from that, but what ever it is they are trying to get, it is scary to this author!!
I know that the time has come that the Post Office needs a more secure means of Securing the mail, such as a Postal Drop that is inside a Metal Safe of some kind, that cannot be compromised during the night when there are no witnesses as to what or who is breaking them open! Or it is time for the postal Customer to place their mail in the boxes when they know that the Mail Carrier is going to pick up the mail or Drop their mail inside the Post Office itself, as I have done now for years when I found that there had been break ins to the blue mail drop boxes. The Suspect cut the door open with a cutting torch one time, and the other time the Lock was completely compromised by some kind of prying device in the key opening and then the door was pried open the rest of the way with a prying tool.
The mail isn't safe any more and people wonder why I have gone to paying my bills over the Internet and wondering what, why, or even if that is safe. To me that is safer then leaving a check in the mail box or even the Post Office any more. It is a Sad Day when you have to Think of it This way!!