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Chicago Heights Police are investigating a forgery incident involving 85-year-old Don Tornow. After sending a $10 check to tip a delivery person, it was altered to $9,500 and cashed two months later. He believes he is a victim of mail theft since the checks sent to pay his water and gas bills were not cashed.
The Chicago Heights Police helped him get his money returned to his bank account. Tornow was baffled at how a $10 check could be altered into an amount approximating $10,000. He wonders if the mail was stolen from the mailbox itself.
Earlier this year, U.S. postal inspectors launched an investigation into possible mail theft at the New Lenox post office. Initial reports of theft subsequently left two of the mailboxes taped to be secured from any further use.
Kelvin Dortch Jr. in Park Ridge was charged with federal mail theft. When federal investigators were able to track him, after finding he had placed a tracking device into a bin of mail. Despite not being an employee, Dorch had access to an “arrow’ key” that was used to gain access to the Park Ridge mailboxes.
According to the postal service, these keys allow all carriers near-universal access to collection boxes, cluster boxes, and apartment mail panels. However, the postal service’s management of the keys was insufficient as the number of arrow keys in circulation is unknown.
Almost half of 1,000 complaints were regarded as mail theft after an investigation, according to USPS Inspector General Reports to Congress in 2021. Mail was also found in the trash, with scenes of mail burning on a grill being also reported on the south side of Chicago, according to ABC News.
Blue mailbox vandalism has also been reported in Villa Park, Lombard, New Lenox, Lincolnwood, Wilmette, and Winnetka. In addition, from 2018 to 2021, there has been a rise in mail stored by carriers from 80 reports in 2018, rising to 261 in 2021.
Signs in 2022 are looking to exceed prior numbers from last year. For example, national reports of mail theft were over 299,000 between March 2020 and February 2021, which reflects an increase of a total of 184,500 complaints or a 161% rise when compared to the same period last year. The causes of these crimes, such as mail theft, are speculated to most likely stem from the COVID-19, the volume of growth of USPS parcels, and checks related to pandemic governmental aid.
President of the National Association of Letter Carriers said, “We will continue to work with Postal Service representatives and the Postal Inspection Service to take any steps necessary to prevent crimes from being committed against letter carriers and improve their safety on the job.”
Written by Skye Leon
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Chicago Tribune: A Chicago Heights man mailed a holiday check for $10. He later found out it was altered to a different name and cashed for $9,500; by Mike Nolan
Chicago Tribune: Postal authorities probe possible mail thefts at New Lenox post office as collection boxes removed; By Mike Nolan
ABC 7 Chicago: USPS investigating stolen mail, missing mail, drop box break-ins in Chicago area; By Jason Knowles and Ann Pistone
NBC News: ‘We need more protection’: Mail carriers sound alarm over surge in robberies; By Rich Schapiro
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Atomic Taco’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Aranami’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License