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Howard County Police Investigate Cases Of Mail & Check Theft

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mail box, mail theft
Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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CLARKSVILLE, Md. (WJZ)—Howard County police are on the lookout for a mail thief, after several people reported their mail stolen from their mailboxes.

Rochelle Ritchie spoke with one victim who is changing a very popular habit.

The thieves seem to be targeting homes in Laurel and Clarksville and have been doing so for the last three months.

On a quiet street in Clarksville, a new crime has neighbors watching their mailboxes a little closer after their neighbor Cindy Benedek got a disturbing call from her bank.

“Yeah, I was pretty surprised someone stole my check,” Benedek said.

She says she placed a check for a $100 in her mailbox to be picked up by the mail carrier. A few days later the bank called to tell  her someone tried to cash it for $900.

“It would have been hard for us to pay our other bills, so we’re happy the bank caught it and called to check,” Benedek said.

Howard County police say it’s a crime that’s happened across the county more than once.

“We’re issuing a warning to residents they should be careful with their mail until we are able to apprehend the person stealing mail out of mailboxes,” said Sherry Llewellyn, Howard County Police Department.

Seven cases of stolen mail have been reported: five in Laurel, two in Clarksville.

While most people try to avoid the red flag, these thieves are looking for one.

In each case the red flag on the mailbox was up to let the mail carrier know there was outgoing mail. Little did residents know it made them a target for thieves, especially those looking for checks.

“What we believe is happening is taking the checks, changing the payee information and cashing them at the victim’s bank,” Llewellyn said.

Howard County police are advising people to drop their mail containing checks in the large blue mailboxes.

Police are not releasing details on potential suspects, but many are now paying attention to all the red flags.

“I guess now that we know about it we’ll keep an eye out,” said Brandon Duvall, resident.

And in some cases mail was found thrown all over some neighborhoods. The thieves have even attempted to hide their crime by taping the envelopes shut.

The United States Post Office is assisting in this investigation.

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