Barrington police give advice on how to avoid mail thefts
Barrington police say they've taken numerous reports of mail theft over the last two months.
In many cases, criminals engage in "check washing," a form of fraud that entails altering a legitimate check by using chemicals. The thieves make the checks to themselves and fraudulently cash them, police said this week.
Such thefts are occurring in other towns across the area, they added.
In a video posted to the Barrington Police Department's Facebook page last month, Detective Sgt. Lori Allsteadt said the reports of stolen mail have come from both post office locations in town. The first report was Dec. 13 from the Barrington Commons location and from a mailbox on the north side of town, she said. The criminals pried open the mailboxes and removed the mail.
Police recommend the following:
• Write all checks using gel pens. This will make it much more difficult to wash the check.
• Do not place mail in U.S. Postal Service blue boxes after the last pickup of the day.
• Walk your mail into the post office if possible.
• Send money electronically through your bank or app whenever possible.
• Quickly remove mail from your mailbox, especially if you are expecting checks or credit cards.
• If you do not receive a check or other letter of value, contact the issuer as soon as possible.
• Register for USPS "informed delivery" at informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action to preview mail and manage package delivery schedule.
• Monitor your financial accounts and credit records for any fraudulent activity.
• If you are a victim of mail theft, file a report with your local law enforcement and submit a report to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at (877) 876-2455.
Police also have received reports of people getting calls from someone posing as a Barrington police officer and asking for money. Police never ask for money over the phone, Allsteadt said.