WESTPORT, Conn. (WTNH)-- Some neighbors in Westport are on edge after police say a group of people have been swiping mail out of mailboxes there.
And police say those mail thefts have resulted in thousands of dollars being ripped off.
The most recent string of mailbox burglaries started a few weeks ago. But police say it's an on-going problem and they are asking all Connecticut residents to be careful.
Mailboxes, target for thieves, pilfering packages and other post for checks and cash. Residents tell News 8 a gang is behind the crime.
"I don't want to use the word, 'gang,' but some of them are organized and they are able to get the fraudulent funds," said Detective Frank Podpolucha, Bridgeport police.
Bridgeport police Detective Frank Podpolucha assisted Westport police in the investigation. He says a resident in that town ordered bank checks, had them delivered to his home, and the checks were stolen.
Police say the suspect was able to open an account at a Citibank on Main Street in Bridgeport. He made several withdrawals from the ATM. Then, on August 8, he went inside the bank to make a larger withdrawal but by then, police were on to him.
Twenty-seven year old Travon Clark was arrested on the spot and more arrests could follow. Mailbox misdemeanors began a few weeks ago, but police say it's an ongoing problem.
"Westport is not the only town or community that has been affected, it's been all over Connecticut," said Podpolucha.
Police recommend people use locked mailboxes.
"My boxes are locked because I live in a complex, so I would say if they're worried about money, or anything, if it's something important, they should probably hand deliver it to the post office," said Liana Pitre, a resident.
Or, get financial mail delivered electronically. But some say that isn't any safer.
"I think if somebody wants your information, they're going to get it either online or in the US post office. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there that are just desperate," said Ellen Swan, a resident.
Here are more suggestions on how to secure your mail from Bridgeport police:
- Do not leave outgoing mail in your unlocked mailbox.
- Deposit mail in a blue collection box or inside your local post office. Make sure your home mailbox is in good condition. Mail that is exposed can be damaged by bad weather and is visible to thieves.
- Promptly pick up your incoming mail after it is delivered.
- Purchase a locked mailbox or convert your unlocked box to the lockable type. Make sure the mail slot is large enough for the letter carrier to insert your mail. The letter carrier cannot pick up mail from this type of box.
- Arrange for your mail to be delivered to a Post Office box for a small fee.
- Have regular income checks deposited electronically into your bank account via direct deposit.
- Promptly contact the senders if you do not receive credit cards, checks, or other valuable mail.
- Notify the post office and mailers if you change your address. When going on vacation, have the post office hold your mail or have a trusted friend or neighbor pick up your mail after delivery.
- Be observant of activities on your street, including those near your letter carrier, the postal vehicle, residential mailboxes, and collection boxes.
- If you see suspicious persons or activity, call 911 while the suspects are still present.
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