Crafty kleptos are targeting a Prospect Lefferts Gardens drop box — and locals claim no one’s mail is safe!
The blue mailbox at Midwood Street and Flatbush Avenue is one of the single most pilfered collection points operated by the U.S. Postal Service in the borough, according to area advocates, who’ve created a website called worstmailboxever.com that locals can use to petition the city for a more secure drop box to send out their rent checks and birthday cards.
“For years right here at [Midwood Street and Flatbush Avenue] our residents have had their rent checks, bill payments, cards to loved ones – you name it’s [sic] been stolen from this mailbox,” wrote Seth Kaplan, a longtime area resident and prolific community advocate, on the petition site that went live Sunday. “It’s one of the worst mailboxes in Brooklyn!”
The USPS blue box is a frequent topic of discussion at community meetings hosted by the 71st Precinct, where cops and postal reps have singled out that specific crate, claiming mail there frequently falls victim to so-called “fishing scams,” according to another peeved Prospect Lefferts Gardens resident.
“It’s the most infamous male package theft in New York City based on the NYPD and Postal Service’s own admission,” said Brian Cunningham, who launched a hard-fought, but losing challenge for Mathieu Eugene’s Council seat in 2017. “This is a mailbox people are advised not to use.”
The fishing scam is a low-tech, but highly effective technique for pulling letters from USPS blue boxes using nothing more than a length of string and a sticky glue trap meant for capturing rodents.
And the selfish scheme is hitting senior citizens the hardest, according to Cunningham, who said many elders don’t realize their mail’s been stolen until their landlords start demanding payment weeks, or even months after checks were sent out.
“For seniors, who are paying rent, paying bills, mail checks being snatched up, or items being sent to loved ones, is very distressing,” he said.
NYPD spokeswoman Det. Mason confirmed there were three complaints related to that mailbox this year, including one heist that nabbed a pricey parcel worth more than $1,000 on March 5, and officers at the 71st Precinct are working with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service — the law-enforcement arm of USPS — to outfit that box with an anti-theft door.
Mailbox fishing scams are not unique to the Flatbush Avenue drop box, and the Postal Service is currently in the process of either replacing, or modifying all city blue boxes to reduce theft, according to USPS spokeswoman Maureen Marion, who noted that mailboxes are being replaced in order of highest priority.
A spokeswoman for the Postal Inspection Service confirmed that mailbox is part of an ongoing investigation, but would not provide any additional information.