For many, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, a time of peace and harmony, but it’s also a time when thieves are stealing mail out of post office boxes and off of front stoops across New Jersey.

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District, is calling on the Postal Inspector and the Post Office police to step up security efforts in Jersey and across the country with so many people sending checks, gift cards, and packages to friends and loved ones from now through the end of the year.

“We’ve had a huge problem with people actually having their checks stolen out of envelopes and altered, it’s called washing, where they change the name, they change the amount," he said Tuesday during a news conference in Teaneck.

He said this problem has been particularly bad in Teaneck, but postal thefts are also taking place all over the Garden State.

McConnell Adams, Townsquare Media Lansing
McConnell Adams, Townsquare Media Lansing

Fishing for checks

“It occurs at the post boxes where they put fishing lines in and fish out letters to steal the checks, but beyond that we’ve had problems actually in the post offices themselves,” he said. “Unfortunately, you’ve got inside jobs, you’ve got people at the boxes."

Gottheimer said people need to be careful when sending letters and gift cards.

Don't forget to do this

“What you have to do, you’ve got to be vigilant as ever to watch the checks that you write to make sure nothing is being stolen out of your account or people altar it and actually the bills you’re paying get to the appropriate recipients," he said.

The Post Office has had problems for years with theft, and recently there was a report of mail carriers being robbed of their letters and packages at gunpoint in one section of New Jersey

In another instance, police in South Brunswick issued a warning about thieves stealing mail that may be resulted in identity theft.

Gottheimer said he’s writing a letter to postal officials asking what concrete action is being taken to stop this kind of problem from occurring.

McConnell Adams, Townsquare Media Lansing
McConnell Adams, Townsquare Media Lansing

“I want to understand why through technology and their postal inspectors, why they haven’t been able to get to the bottom of what’s going on nationally,” he said.

“People deserve better, going after the pirates internally and externally these postal pirates, and I’m calling on the postal inspection service, the law enforcement arm to be more aggressive.”

He also pointed out newer Post Office mailboxes have much thinner slots where letters are placed however some letter fishing is still continuing, where lines are dropped through the slot to try and fish out envelopes.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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