Two more readers of the Local who say they’ve had checks stolen from the mail have told the paper they suspect somebody from inside the United States Postal Service is involved.
Two more readers of the Local who say they’ve had checks stolen from the mail have told the paper they suspect somebody from inside the United States Postal Service is involved in a check-stealing ring.
Unlike previous readers who have written and called the Local, Len Byron and David Richardson were willing to let the Local publish their names. Byron said his $1,300 rent check had been stolen and washed after he dropped it into the post office box at the corner of Cresheim Road and Carpenter Lane on June 21.
“I just happened to go through my statements on my computer and it says I wrote a check for $3,819, which I know I didn’t,” said Byron, who had previously assumed his landlord had gotten the check. Byron has not yet contacted police, but plans to file a report.
“It’s gotta be somebody in the [Postal Service] taking these checks,” he said. “They’re not catching these guys or actors or nothing’s happening to them when they do. It’s like open season.”
In an email sent to the Local on Monday, George Clark, a postal inspector at the United States Postal Inspection Service, said the Postal Inspection Service is “doing everything in its power to combat these crimes,” including partnering with the USPS Office of Inspector General to investigate “the extent that evidence suggests that Postal employees have somehow involved themselves in the crime.”
In past emails, Clark has warned against residents jumping to conclusions based on “thin evidence.”
“I will caution that, from experience, people jump to conclusions about things on thin evidence that almost always turn out to be false,” he said.
So far, the Postal Inspection Service has not seen evidence of employees stealing mail, Clark said. “People should feel secure that their mailman and the employees at the Post Office are almost certainly not stealing their mail.”
Furthermore, Clark said that the Postal Inspection Service is working with the Post Office to combat mail theft. He reminded readers not to mail items at blue mailboxes after the last pickup of the day so the mail doesn’t sit in the mailboxes overnight.
Still, Byron said he is angry at the lack of action by authorities.
“There doesn’t seem to be anything done about it,” he said.
Unlike Byron, Richardson dropped his check inside the mail slot of the Market Square Post Office in Chestnut Hill. The check was written to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue for quarterly estimated taxes for this year, so he thinks the check was mailed around April 15.
“The next thing that happened was a month later, I saw that somebody cashed the check,” Richardson said. “As far as I’m concerned, this was stolen directly from the Chestnut Hill Post Office because this was dropped off directly in the post office.”
A bank image of the check Richardson shared with the Local shows that “PA Department of Revenue” was washed over and replaced with the name “Arianna Davis,” which is in a different style of handwriting than the rest of the check. The forger did not change the amount, which was $850.
Richardson said that Bank of America refunded him his money within 24 hours. He decided not to change his bank account information.
“It’s too much of a hassle,” he said. “I have so many things linked to that account to start over - I thought I would take a chance.”
It’s been a few months since the incident, and Richardson said he hasn’t had any issues since.
“I figured I’d rather take the risk than take on the aggravation,” he said.
On May 16, Richardson filed a police report and another report with the postal inspector. He hasn’t heard back from either office.
Since the incident, Richardson has been mailing letters from a post office box outside the city.
“What I’ve been doing ever since is mail everything from Lafayette Hill,” he said. “And there’s been no issues from there.”
Correction: an earlier version of this article said that Richardson thinks the mail theft was happening at the USPS's Southwest Philadelphia Distribution Center when in fact Richardson was referring to Chestnut Hill's post office in Market Square.