The Carroll County Sheriff's Office is warning residents to be alert for suspicious activity involving residential mailboxes.
In a news release Friday, police said there have been 10 reports of mail stolen from mailboxes in Carroll, with the majority of cases occurring in the Finksburg and Eldersburg area.
One of these cases has charges pending, while the others remain under active investigation, according to police.
Police said investigations reveal that the thefts are generally occurring from mid to late morning with suspects attempting to steal outgoing mail before the arrival of mail carriers.
Thieves then locate the outgoing bills that may contain checks. The checks are then altered to list a different payee and the suspect then attempts to cash the check, according to police.
The remainder of the outgoing mail that was stolen is later located on the side of the road a short distance from where the theft occurred, police said.
Residents are urged to immediately report any suspicious behavior observed around mailboxes to the Sheriff's Office, which is working in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Inspectors to investigate these crimes.
The U.S. Postal Inspectors suggest the following precautions:
• Retrieve your mail as soon as possible after it is delivered. Don't leave your mail unattended for extended periods. Don't leave it in your mailbox overnight.
• If you cannot regularly retrieve your mail promptly, consider installing a lockable mailbox or obtaining a P.O. Box service with the local post office.
• If you will be away from home temporarily, you can notify your post office to hold your mail with the online hold mail service at https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/
• Always deposit your mail in a mail slot at your local post office, or hand it to your letter carrier
• Monitor your bank account statements regularly, and report any charges of checks you did not authorize
• Monitor your credit report and report any accounts you did not authorize
• Ask your bank for 'secure" checks that can't be altered
If you believe you are a victim of mail theft or identity theft, contact the Sheriff's Office at 410-386-2900 or the anonymous TIPS hotline at 1-888-399-8477.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun