GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Glen Ridge Police Department officers apprehended two suspects traveling with $116,000 in checks allegedly stolen from a borough mailbox. The alleged theft and arrest occurred on so-called “tax day,” April 17. Many of the checks were addressed to the IRS.
According to GRPD Capt. Sean Quinn, in a telephone interview earlier this week, Officer Fuquannah Holley was on patrol during the early morning hours when at about 2:30 a.m. she observed a suspicious car near a mailbox on Ridgewood Road and Glen Ridge Parkway. The mailbox
at this location was suspected of being a target for “mail fishing.”
Mail fishing is an illegal method of extract mail from the blue, street mail boxes by using a sticky substance at the end of a “fishing” rod. If the envelope that is fished out is found to contain a check, the check is “washed” of pertinent information, reassigned, and cashed illegally. Fishers have also been known to fraudulently cash checks through banking services accepting a photograph of the check.
Quinn said Holley followed the car from Ridgewood Road and Glen Ridge Parkway. She called Officer Matthew Perigo for backup. Two suspects were in the car. It pulled onto Ardsley Road.
“The suspects stopped and lifted the hood to show they were disabled,” Quinn said. “Officers Holley and Perigo found 24 pieces of mail in the car plus ‘fishing’ tools.”
Quinn said the suspects were processed and remanded to the Essex County Correctional Facility.
The mailbox on Ridgewood Road and Glen Ridge Parkway had been the target of another possible fishing expedition.
During the early morning hours of April 2, Officer Charles Roberts observed two individuals acting suspiciously near this mailbox. The suspects got into a car and drove away. Roberts followed.
“He pulled them over on an infraction,” Quinn said. “Excessive tinting on a window.”
Roberts observed burglary tools in the car, but found no mail. The suspects were arrested and charged; given a summons, and released on their own recognizance.
On April 6, another arrest was made.
Through an investigation by Detective Sgt. Daniel Manley, the person found to be part of the mail-fishing scheme was located in Passaic.
“He was a bank account holder where checks were being cashed,” Quinn said. “He was charged with theft, receiving stolen property and conspiracy for both.”
Quinn said that mail fishing is occuring in the tristate area.
“But our suspects are from New Jersey,” he said.
To protect your mail from being fished from a mailbox, authorities recommend delivering mail directly to the post office. If you must use a mailbox located on the street, deposit the mail before the scheduled last pickup so your mail is not in the box all night when fishers come out.
Another scheme used by them is to spread a sticky substance inside the mailbox door so that mail can be “hooked” by the glue and later collected by the fisher.