Police warn of 'mailbox fishing,' where thieves steal checks, wash them off, and write their own

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- You throw your holiday card in the mail, and off it goes to Grandma, right? Police say some thieves may have other ideas.

New post office collection boxes cover the Town of Wellesley, Massachusetts after police said at least 10 mailboxes were stolen from in a few months.

"We’ve had almost every mailbox along the major route, Route 16, was hit, as well as two post offices -- the Wellesley Hills and the Wellesley Square post office," said Mark D'Innocenzo, Wellesley Police Department.

These thieves weren't just targeting holiday cards. Police said they stole checks and money orders to then cash in. In some cases, they washed off written checks to write in their own information.

"In this day and age, nothing surprises me," said Mary Lenihan, Wellesley neighbor. "There’s no privacy. It's really too bad that people are so lazy they have to cheat."

It's called "mailbox fishing," and Wellesley police said they've even seen the culprits take apart mouse traps covered in glue and tie them to strings to lower into the bin to stick to envelopes.

A victim involved in a similar scam in Foxborough, Massachusetts in November said she'll never use one of the mailboxes again that's outside.

Police warned people to write checks in gel pen instead of ballpoint pen so it can't be washed away, and reminded people not to send mail after the last daily pickup time.

"Try not to mail something outdoors after the box’s last collection time of the day," said D'Innocenzo. "Every box has a posted collection time so you certainly don’t want your mail sitting in the box overnight or overnight Saturday into a Sunday when it’s not going to be collected for more than 48 hours."