There's a mail thief on the loose in Howard County - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

There's a mail thief on the loose in Howard County

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Police say it's been going on since October, in Clarksville and Laurel.

The thief is targeting homes that have the red flag up on their mailbox, a signal to the letter carrier that's there's outgoing mail to be picked up.

"That morning I put a letter in my box, with a check for $100 in it, " Cindy Benedek says. "By 5pm that night, I got a call from the Bank of America in Largo, that a gentleman was in there trying to cash that check for $900."

Thankfully the bank teller was suspicious, and called Benedek before handing over the cash.

"Apparently he had changed some of the information I had on it, and the handwriting didn't match, so she did not cash the check," Benedek says.

Howard County police say there have been seven cases of stolen mail recently, five in Laurel and two in Clarksville near Wake Forest Road. They're urging residents to take their outgoing mail to the post office for now. They've also alerted the U.S. Postal Inspection Service about the mail thefts, and investigators are on the case.

Besides the mail thefts, residents say there have also been a couple of break-ins in the neighborhood, and now they're really trying to look out for each other's property.

"The lady right across the street had her house robbed. It was basically a smash and grab and they were gone", Mark Wilson says.

Wilson who's lived in the neighborhood nearly all his life and had someone steal mail from his box a few years back, say there's been a spike in crime here recently.

People living here are altering their lifestyles to stay safe.

"We've all been watching a lot since then", Wilson says.

Investigators do have some bank surveillance video which may lead them to the man who tried to cash that stolen check.

If you think your mail has been stolen, you should call Howard County Police at 410-313-3700 or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 202-636-1514.

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