USPS hopes new mailboxes will prevent 'fishing' in upper Manhattan

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- Someone is "fishing" for trouble in upper Manhattan. Postal authorities are keeping an eye out for the person stealing from mailboxes by illegally fishing for mail.

Gloria Arias and her mom still can't believe it happened to them, someone fished out their mail from the postal box across the street from their Washington Heights apartment building and cashed two money orders, money that was supposed to pay their monthly rent.

"And when we go to see what they sent us the next month that we owed more money, we go, but why? And it's because they stole it from the mailbox, our money orders," said Gloria Arias, a fishing victim.

Ms. Arias isn't alone. Thanks to a rash of mail thefts in upper Manhattan and the Bronx, the Postal Service is now retrofitting mailboxes.

Gone is the drop-down opening. In its place, is a narrow slot designed to keep creative "fishers" from pulling out what's inside the mailbox.

The only people who should be doing that are the postal workers.

"It used to have the flapper, and it had a post in the back of it so if you weren't careful, your mail would get caught and wouldn't go all the way down," said Will King, a Washington Heights resident.

During his 39-year career as a postal carrier, Victor Echevarria has seen just about every fishing technique in the book.

"They use a bottle, tie a string around it and put glue or one of those rat traps, then when it goes down and they bring it back up and attaches to everything on it," Echevarria said.

Whether your neighborhood mailbox has been retrofitted or not, the Postal Service advises you not to drop off mail after the day's final pick-up, because that gives thieves all night to go fishing.
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