ST. PAUL (AP) - Reports of mail theft are
increasing across Minnesota, western Wisconsin, North
Dakota and South Dakota, with a significant amount
being reported in the Twin Cities, the U.S. Postal
Thieves are stealing envelopes from mailboxes, in
some cases using a kind of nail polish remover to
alter checks and cash them, the postal service
Sue Matt, a postal inspector in St. Paul, said many
thefts are happening in Twin Cities suburbs, where
mailboxes sitting along the street are easy prey for
According to the Ramsey County Sheriff's
Department, the number of reported mail thefts in
seven cities nearly doubled over a three-month period
since last year.
In Mounds View, residents have reported a
half-dozen recent incidents. Eagan police have looked
into 12 cases of mail theft in the last three
Some of the thefts can escalate into full-blown
identity theft, where thieves use a person's checking
account, driver's license and Social Security numbers
to create computerized checks or open charge
John and Florence Freitager of Mounds View realized
their outgoing mail had been stolen when they received
a letter from the city of Minneapolis informing them
that a parking ticket was not paid.
They had paid the ticket - or thought they had.
Then they received their Visa statement and noticed a
They had paid that, as well. John Freitager had
written a check for $439.43 to Visa, slipped it into
an envelope and walked it and five other bills to the
mailbox at the end of their driveway.
After the couple learned that phone and cable TV
companies hadn't received their payments either,
"that's when we knew something was up," Florence
John Freitager visited his bank and learned his
check for $439.43 had been cashed. But rather than
being made out to Visa, the check had been made to an
individual with false identification.
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Authorities said the check was "washed," meaning it
was dipped into a solution that fades the handwritten
ink on the face of the check but does not affect the
printed information, such as bank name and the
checking account number, allowing a forger to write a
new name on the payee line but trace the original
signature at the bottom.