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Congresswoman Grace Meng

Representing the 6th District of New York

Meng Calls on Postal Service to Install Anti-Theft Collection Boxes in Queens to Combat Growing Mail Theft Crime Known as Mail Fishing

Feb 1, 2018
Press Release
Crime results in identity theft and bank fraud that affects many borough residents
QUEENS, NY – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) today sent a letter to the United States Postal Service (USPS) urging it to replace all postal collection boxes in Queens with new anti-theft boxes in order to combat mail fishing, a growing mail theft crime throughout the borough in which thieves “fish” mail out of blue collection boxes.    
Usually acting late at night, these criminals place string connected to a sticky material into collection boxes. The sticky substance attaches to the mail and the crooks pull out the envelopes. They then open the letters and steal people’s personal information such as bank, credit card, and Social Security numbers. These criminals also engage in check washing, a scheme in which they wash ink off of checks they stole and rewrite the name of the payee and/or the amount, a crime that recently cost one of Meng’s constituents $4,000.
Anti-theft collection boxes have smaller slots that make it more difficult for thieves to steal the mail that is inside.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that Queens residents cannot safely leave their mail in USPS collection boxes due to the danger of mail fishing, which can result in identity theft and bank fraud,” said Meng. “Many of the victims of mail fishing are seniors who are particularly vulnerable to these reprehensible schemes and have no means of protecting themselves. USPS must act at once to stop this unconscionable crime. The agency must replace all collection boxes in Queens with anti-theft collection boxes to prevent continued mail fishing in our borough.” 
Meng sent her letter to Elvin Mercado, the head of the USPS’ Triboro District which encompasses Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island. A copy can be found here and the text is below.
Mr. Elvin Mercado
Triboro District Manager
United States Postal Service
1050 Forbell Street, Room 2011
Brooklyn, NY 11256-9996
Dear Mr. Mercado:
I write to request that you take immediate steps to address mail fishing in my congressional district in Queens, New York.
Mail fishing, or the act of stealing mail from inside local mailboxes, is a growing problem across my congressional district that has serious consequences. My constituents have had their identities stolen and funds removed from their bank accounts due to checks and sensitive documents stolen directly from United States Postal Service (USPS) collection boxes. Many of the victims of mail fishing are seniors who are particularly vulnerable to these reprehensible schemes and have limited information about how to protect themselves. Mail fishing is affecting neighborhoods across my district, including Rego Park and Kew Gardens Hills.
Mail fishing has become so prevalent that local police precincts have suggested that residents bring their mail directly to the post office and not leave it in local USPS collection boxes. This is not an acceptable solution. Many post offices in my district have limited hours, and residents cannot drop off mail when post offices are closed. This also creates a significant barrier for seniors and disabled persons in my district who have issues with mobility. My constituents need the USPS to provide relief, including, but not limited to, replacing all old USPS collection boxes with anti-theft collection boxes.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. I look forward to your response detailing a course of action to address the mail fishing that has tormented my constituents for months. I am happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this matter.
Grace Meng
Member of Congress
Cc: The Honorable Megan J. Brennan, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer, United States Postal Service