Mail thieves targeting Downtown Flushing 1

The relay boxes at 140-65 Beech Ave. in Downtown Flushing were reportedly tampered with on Nov. 1, and thieves made off with two bags of mail. The lock, right, appears to have been tampered with and left open.

There have been a series of mail thefts in Flushing, confirmed by the United States Postal Service, with at least nine green street relay boxes “compromised.”

“Mailboxes were getting absolutely violated,” one resident said.

“We have received reports in the Flushing area, specially in 11358 ZIP code,” Donna Harris from the Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement division of USPS, told the Chronicle Nov. 5.

Harris was unable to confirm how many boxes have been tampered with, but the resident, Frances Scanlon, said it happened 12 times between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1, as told to her by a Flushing Post Office manager.

Scanlon said she religiously checks her mail at her Beech Avenue apartment complex mailbox, between Kissena Boulevard and Bowne Street, every day. She subscribes to the USPS’s electronic delivery digest, which she said is extremely accurate in estimating when mail should arrive in her mailbox.

On Nov. 1, Scanlon was notified that she should expect three or four pieces of mail in her box, and she asked her sister to go down and pick them up. When her sister arrived, the box was empty.

Scanlon followed up with the Flushing Post Office, and was told by a manager that the relay box for her building had been compromised and two bags of mail were stolen, she said.

The manager did not respond to multiple calls for comment by the Chronicle.

In an email shared with the Chronicle, Scanlon was told by a postal employee that two others were hit that day, in addition to nine other instances in the weeks earlier.

The green relay boxes that were compromised between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1 in Downtown Flushing are located at:

• Hollywood Avenue and 156th Street;

• 41st Avenue and Parsons Boulevard;

• 134th Street and Booth Memorial Avenue;

• 147th Street and Beech Avenue;

• 144-80 Sanford Ave.;

• 140-65 Beech Ave.;

• Phlox Place and Cherry Avenue;

• Saull Street and Blossom Avenue; and

• 149th Street and Sanford Avenue.

The latter two locations were reportedly tampered with two and three times, respectively, during that month.

The Postal Inspection Service is investigating the thefts, Harris said. At press time, the agency was unsure how the thieves accessed the boxes, but Harris dispelled the rumor that there are universal keys for every box across the country that the thieves could have gained a copy of.

In the meantime the public can help protect themselves from becoming victims.

First, individuals should take their mail out of their boxes each day. Mail left behind is at a higher risk of being compromised or stolen, she said. If you’re not at home to pick it up, have someone trustworthy do it for you, Harris said.

Additionally, if an individual sees suspicious activity surrounding a mailbox, he or she should call 911 as well as the Postal Inspection Service, Harris continued. The hotline is (877) 876-2455.

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