According to the Blairstown Police Department and Police Commissioner Charlie Makatura, it’s time to check your mailbox.
After a three-month investigation, local law enforcement arrested Jennifer Davis, a 46-year-old woman suspected of stealing personal checks and credit cards from Blairstown mailboxes.
Davis has been charged with 32 counts of third and fourth-degree crimes relating to forgery, fraud, and theft. Stealing personal checks from mailboxes, Davis crossed out check recipient’s name and filled in her own, then deposited them into her personal bank account. Checks ranged from $77-$1,678.
Using an allegedly stolen credit card, Davis withdrew $400 from an ATM Machine and can be seen on a surveillance camera. Third-degree charges can earn up to five years in prison, while fourth-degree charges earn up to 18 months.
“The police department asks that you do your due diligence and be very, very careful with your mail. Pick it up as soon as possible,” advised Makatura at a Blairstown Township Committee meeting on July 26.
Davis’s arrest is indicative of a national issue. In February of this year the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released a warning regarding a nationwide surge in mail theft and check fraud.
FinCEN states that check fraud is one of the largest sources of illicit proceeds in the United States. Financial institutions have seen an uptick in mail theft and check fraud since the pandemic.
“Criminals typically steal personal checks, business checks, tax refund checks, and checks related to government assistance programs, such as Social Security payments and unemployment benefits.”
Thieves can then use the personal information to further scam their victims through credit card and credit account fraud. In 2021, more than 350,000 Suspicious Activity Reports were filed to FinCEN, a 23 percent increase from 2020. Last year, more than 680,000 reports were made.
Makatura recommends checking your mailbox ASAP. The United States Postal Inspection Service has a few more suggestions.
- Inquire about overdue mail, if you don’t receive an item in the expected time frame, contact the sender.
- Utilize the USPS Hold Mail Service where it can be held safely at your post office for up to 30 days.
- When shipping or receiving packages choose the Hold for Pickup option which allows packages to be picked up from the post office rather than your front porch.
- Sign up for Informed Delivery by the USPS. The app will send daily emails regarding the mail and packages scheduled to arrive that day, allowing you to track their shipment. Mail reminders can be sent, notifying the delivery of important items.
- Monitor your mailbox or front door with a home security camera system. If suspicious activity is recorded, save and share it with the Postal Inspection Service and local law enforcement.
Makatura states that this mail theft investigation is ongoing and in the meantime urges Blairstown residents to remain vigilant.
Alex Tironi, Contributing Writer
A recent graduate of George Mason University in Virginia, Alex pursued a degree in journalism with a double minor in American Sign Language and nonprofit studies. She worked as assistant news editor to the Fourth Estate, the university newspaper where she reported on many things but mostly focused on campus crime and PD activity. While working for a nonprofit called the Borgen Project, she wrote about global health and poverty in third-world nations. Alex recently finished an internship writing and editing for a business consulting company in NY. Growing up in the area, she has always been active in her community and brings the same intention as a contributing writer for the Ridge View Echo.