Doris Stevens got a call March 28 from the Poolesville Post Office: Her outgoing mail had been found ripped open and discarded on Hughes Street. Two checks that she had issued to pay bills were gone. A third was still in the envelope.
Hers was one of seven mailboxes that mail had been stolen from in the area around Westerly Avenue, Luhn and Gott streets, and Hughes and Fletchall roads.
“One carrier in particular noticed a half dozen or so boxes had the flag up but no mail in them,” Poolesville Postmaster Debbie Webber said. The post office also received several calls from customers, at which point Webber reported the thefts to the county police.
The officer she spoke with told her mail theft had also happened recently in the Potomac area. As of Tuesday police had not responded to requests for information on the thefts.
Throughout the day on March 28, several carriers reported mailboxes with their flags up but no mail inside, two people dropped off mail they had found ripped open and strewn on the road, and a few neighbors had called to say their mail had been stolen. It seemed that thefts only occurred on that day, Webber said.
To prevent theft, Webber is asking residents to “not put their flags up to alert stranger that there’s mail ... or to bring the mail to the secure boxes at the post office.”
Stevens said one of the checks she had written had been altered to the name Kevin Young and cashed for $1,500. Her bank called her to alert her that a fraudulent check had been cashed and told her how to close the account and take steps to recover the money.
“They had bleached out the check and, the same day, by the afternoon, they had cashed it,” she said. Stevens has since closed the account to prevent the thief from using the second check.
The check was cashed at a Virginia bank, according to Webber.
“This is the first time we’ve had anything like this here in Poolesville. Luckily it’s the first time and hopefully the last,” Webber said. Typically, mailing checks is very secure, she said.
“You hear about people being hacked all the time online,” and having financial information compromised, she said. “We hope that people who pay by mail aren’t scared away by this.”