MASPETH, Queens (WABC) -- There's a big push underway to try to protect New Yorkers from blatant mail theft, a puzzling and disturbing crime that has become a growing problem.
In 2022, the U.S. Postal Service reported more than 38,000 incidents of mail theft. In the first half of this year, we're on pace to eclipse that mark, with already more than 25,000 incidents reported.
Mail theft victim Joe Croce says it was infuriating watching the same thieves open up his neighborhood postal relay box and make off with huge bags of mail, including credit cards, bank statements and government checks.
"Broad daylight every time," Croce said. "I couldn't believe it at first and then you start to believe it after the 10th time that, you know, it just keeps happening."
Mail theft is exploding in New York City and across the nation. In the past five years, more than 1,000 people have been arrested nationwide. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
"We knew we couldn't arrest our way out of this problem," said Jon Del Giudice of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Postal inspectors are sounding the alarm.
Congresswoman Grace Meng says it's becoming an epidemic in parts of Queens, where thieves are stealing keys from letter carriers and using the keys to open the green relay boxes before the letters can be delivered to people's homes.
"This is a new way that the mail thieves have been targeting the theft," Meng said.
"Two people pull up in a car," Croce said. "They go in the box, open it with their own key. It's one big bag in the box and they take it, get in the car and they're gone. In no time."
Croce said they come on a Friday as people get their checks, and they come after a holiday, and it's happening everywhere.
Authorities say you should check your mailbox regularly and send mail from the post office, if possible.
They say to avoid mailing checks and try to conduct your financial transactions online.
They also urge people to report suspicious activity to the local post office, where it can be referred to federal postal inspectors.
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