Houston-area mailboxes shut down after checks get stolen

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The postal service is investigating several instances of theft from the drive-up boxes outside of their stations.

The USPS said they have received reports from the Southmore, University, Julius Melcher and Weslayan post offices along with Galveston-area collection boxes. Many of the collection boxes are either taped over with notes telling customers to bring their mail inside or in the case of the University Station mailbox, it has been removed altogether.

In many instances, the theft is resulting in check washing.

Eyewitness News spoke with Lynn Dahlberg on Monday. She said her husband dropped their property tax check off at the University Station and said not long after that, she received a call from her bank that her check looked suspicious.

"The payee name is written over the tax assessor and you can still see part of that," Dahlberg explained. "The amount was changed. This guy added $4,000 to the amount. In the area down at the bottom, we had our tax number there and he wrote over it with 'car parts.'"

Fortunately, she was able to take care of it and expects to get the money refunded soon. Meanwhile, Saurabh Shah saw the blue drive-up box outside the University Station not long after it was broken into and snapped a photo.

"There is a real big convenience factor to being able to drive right up to the box, roll your window down and drop your mail in, but now they are too vulnerable," Shah said.

Memorial Villages Police said they are getting a few reports a week about theft from area mailboxes resulting in check washing.

"If you're paying your lawn guy $25, that can get washed," Detective Christopher Rodriguez said. "I recommend everyone follow up, make sure they receive the check, for one, and if you don't have to write checks, don't write checks."

The department said the top three boxes they have received reports about theft from are in the area of Benignus Road and Memorial Drive, Woodway and Voss and San Felipe and Voss.

"It's usually large amounts," Rodriguez said. "We did work one where there was $80,000 taken out of the victim's account. Another was $50,000."

Anyone with information is asked to contact authorities.

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