The arrest last month of a woman accused of trying to cash a stolen and forged check in Crofton may be part of a larger trend, Anne Arundel County police said Friday.
Patch took part in a police ride-along on July 26 and observed the arrest of a woman suspected of trying to cash a forged check at the Old Line Bank on Route 3.
Police said there has been an increase of similar cases in Anne Arundel County and nearby jurisdictions.
In many cases, residents reported their outgoing mail stolen from their mailboxes. Some thieves are sifting through the mail and finding checks, then trying to cash them using forged amounts, police said.
"The suspects will alter the checks they find by changing the payee line of the check to a person and make the amount higher," police said in a press release Friday. "Then they will attempt to cash the check at the bank of origin and are at times successful."
In the Crofton case, police said a woman forged the number on an outgoing check in an attempt to get nearly $1,000. Another man made a similar attempt but got away, police said.
According to police, most of the mail thefts are taking place in the morning, before mail carriers pick up outgoing mail.
The incidents are being investigated by local police departments and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Police issued the following recommendations to resident to avoid becoming a victim:
- Retrieve your mail as soon as possible after it is delivered. Don't leave your mail unattended for extended periods. Don't leave it in your mailbox overnight.
- If you cannot regularly retrieve your mail promptly, consider installing a lockable mailbox or obtaining P.O. Box service from your local post office.
- If you will be away from home temporarily, you can notify your post office to hold your mail with the online hold mail service on the US Postal Service website: https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/
- Always deposit your mail in a mail slot at your local post office, or hand it to your letter carrier.
- Monitor your bank account statements regularly, and report any charges or checks you did not authorize.
- Monitor your credit report and report any accounts you did not authorize.
- Ask your bank for “secure” checks that can’t be altered.
- If you believe you are a victim of mail theft or identity theft, contact Postal Inspectors at 877-876-2455 or https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/