PARMA, Ohio — Local and federal law enforcement are investigating a string of United States Postal Service mailbox thefts that have been reported across Northeast Ohio.
"We believe someone most likely has a master key and they’re getting in," Parma police Lt. Dan Ciryak said.
The Parma Police Department has had multiple reports of mailbox thefts since November. So far, the amount of stolen money reported in the city stands at more than $300,000.
"They’re taking those bills out — typically from those utility bills — and then they’re altering those checks and cashing them vie mobile app or ATM for higher amounts," Ciryak told 3News.
The blue box thefts have also been reported in surrounding areas. Michael D. Polensek, Ward 8 Cleveland Councilman, said he learned of the thefts from postal service employees and issued a warning to residents to protect their information and money.
"The U.S. Post Office is part of the basic foundation of this country, and to have our mail taken? Totally unacceptable and outrageous," Polensek. "They need to be dealt with and apprehended."
The postal service says several area arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing. They also confirmed a recent robbery of an employee in Euclid Saturday, but at this point, there's no word on whether the case is connected to the string of mailbox thefts.
As a preventive measure, USPS says residents should only use collection boxes during operating hours. In addition, police and local leaders are encouraging residents to avoid using the blue collection mailboxes, instead advising residents to drop off mail into a post office location.
The postal service issued this statement to 3News:
"Postal Inspectors and the Euclid Police Department are actively investigating the recent robbery of a Postal Service employee which took place on Saturday, January 22, 2022.
"As we are still in the information gathering process, the Inspection Service cannot provide specifics at this time; other than the fact that the postal employee was unharmed. Also, the Inspection Service cannot yet opine on whether this incident is isolated or linked to the string of recent blue box thefts.
"Regarding the recent blue box thefts in Northern Ohio, the Inspection Service is extremely confident in the direction of the investigation and appreciate the great cooperation and partnership with our local law enforcement partners. As an update on this matter, there have been several local arrests made recently and the federal investigation is still ongoing. Again, with this being another ongoing investigation, we cannot provide any further details in order to preserve the integrity of this case.
"As always, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service asks the communities in which our HEROES of the postal service serve each and every day to help support and protect them by reporting any suspicious activity towards them to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by calling 877-876-2455. This number can also be used to report any information related to the above referenced incidents."