Brooklyn Boro

Rep. Goldman to USPS: Do something about mail theft in NYC

Not just Brooklyn: Goldman’s office receives ‘numerous complaints’

April 3, 2023 Mary Frost
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Theft from U.S. Postal Service mailboxes across the city has reached epidemic proportions, and Rep. Dan Goldman (NY-10) is urging USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to do something about it.

Since taking office in January, Goldman has received “numerous complaints regarding mail theft, including New Yorkers having their paychecks, credit cards and medical documentation stolen from their mailboxes,” his office told the Brooklyn Eagle. 

“It is imperative that the United States Postal Service do everything in its power to ensure that mail, property and information transported through the USPS is secure,” Goldman said.

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In a letter to DeJoy on March 31, Goldman wrote, “I write to notify you of numerous complaints received by my office regarding theft of vital documents from USPS mailboxes across my district. My office has received complaints from communities in Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Borough Park and in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

A USPS warning about the safe times to mail checks, and a number to call if you see something “fishy.” Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

“The complaints have been alarming,” Goldman wrote. “Perpetrators have reportedly used a variety of tools to fetch and fish important mail out of USPS mailboxes, leaving constituents to cope with identity theft, missing checks and bank statements, and missing medical documentation. This concern has been raised at community council meetings of NYPD Precincts in my district.”

Goldman said he wants USPS to take preventative measures to address the theft. He also urged residents to take extra care when mailing important letters. (See tips below.)

A close-up of a glue trap used by mail thieves, stuck to a mailbox on Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

Sticky-fingered thieves use glue traps

A survey conducted by the Eagle on March 21 and 22 found that the slots of most of the USPS mailboxes on the sidewalks of Hicks Street and Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights were regularly coated with a sticky adhesive, a sign that thieves were using glue boards designed to trap vermin to “fish” mail out of the boxes. During the survey, one mailbox still had a glue board stuck to the front right under the mail slot.

Thieves tie strings to the flat, letter-sized glue traps and lower them into the boxes. Besides acting as the “hook” used to fish out mail, the sticky residue can also prevent letters from falling all the way into the boxes.

Using a technique known as “check washing,” thieves often bleach off the intended payee’s name and make the checks out to themselves. Sometimes they steal the victim’s identity (address, bank account numbers) as well.

The slots on mailboxes all over Brooklyn Heights were found to be coated with a sticky substance used by thieves to steal mail. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

‘More widespread’ than people realize

“We have had about five checks stolen,” Betsy Rodgers, who lives with her husband Robert in the south Heights, told the Eagle in March.

“You don’t know about it for a month,” Rodgers said. “We were able to put a stop on three of the checks. We called the bank and they canceled them. The other two — the big ones — were cashed.” Fortunately, the bank eventually returned their money.

Numerous residents reported on the Nextdoor app that their mail had also been stolen.

“My letters were stolen from Hicks and Clark mailbox. I dropped off cards at the Cadman Plaza mailbox and my letters were stolen there too,” was a typical comment. 

At the March 84th Precinct Community Council meeting, Councilmember Lincoln Restler said his office was taking steps to reach out to Congressional representatives about the issue. “This is a much more widespread issue than we realized,” he said.

Deputy Inspector Adeel Rana, the 84th Precinct’s commanding officer, recommended that residents pay bills electronically — or if people must write checks, to use Uni-Ball pens, which feature indelible ink.

New York Attorney General Letitia James. AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File

New York Attorney General Letitia James in January issued a consumer alert to warn, “There has been a recent rise in mail theft, especially checks, credit cards, and other financial documents being stolen from mailboxes across New York City.” The stealing of documents with personal and financial information can lead to additional crimes, including deed theft, James warned. 

“Having checks, medical documentation, passports, or other identifying information stolen puts New Yorkers at serious risk,” Goldman confirmed.

Goldman advised that residents of his district experiencing mail theft should report the incidents by going to their local NYPD precinct or dialing 911. New Yorkers can also file a report with the Postal Inspection Service so that federal crimes can be investigated and addressed, he said.

Tips from USPS

  • Mail letters directly from the Post Office or pay bills online.
  • If you must use a street mailbox, use a Uni-Ball-style pen and deposit letters right before a pickup.
  • If you suspect your mail was stolen or see a theft happening, contact police immediately and then report it to Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455.

If you see glue, tape, or any other sticky substances on a mailbox, report it to your post office, Postal Inspectors, or the New York Division of the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). The USPIS can be reached at 212-330-2400; or online at

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