The Lynbrook Police Department is investigating a string of robberies in which criminals have stolen checks and other items from mailboxes around the village.
Police Chief Brian Paladino said the crime has happened across Nassau County, and he told residents at the Feb. 3 village board meeting that there had been 17 incidents, and several in Lynbrook.
“It’s a blight all over Nassau County,” Paladino said. “There are new mailboxes at the Lynbrook post offices with a thin slot, no lever, and the old-time mailboxes are going to be phased out.”
Paladino said the perpetrators spray sticky substances inside mailboxes and use ropes to “fish out” envelopes. Then they sort through the mail, remove checks, alter them and cash them for large sums, he said.
As a result, the U.S. Postal Service is replacing mailboxes throughout the county with newer models that have a small slot rather than a lever, which will make it harder for criminals to take anything from them and can only fit letter-sized envelopes. The new mailboxes, which feature a hairline opening for mail and “teeth” under the thin slot, prevent thieves from dropping sticky objects or mousetraps attached to strings or ropes into them.
According to Paladino, Lynbrook detectives have been in contact with the post office. A Lynbrook post office representative, who declined to be identified, confirmed that three mailboxes outside the facility have been upgraded to the smaller mailboxes, and a few others around the village have also been replaced. He added that there are about 30 public mailboxes in Lynbrook, and all boxes across the county will eventually be changed.
Calls to the Nassau County Police Department requesting comment had not been returned at press time.
Even with the changes to mailboxes, Paladino urged residents to mail checks and other personal items by going into the post office rather than dropping them in mailboxes on the street.
Though the suspects in the Lynbrook robberies have not been caught, Paladino said he believed that a large ring of criminals from the Bronx was behind them.
On Christmas Day, Yoli Gomez Osoria, 27, and Andrea Gomez, 28, were arrested by Nassau County police officers for allegedly trying to fish items out of a mailbox in Atlantic Beach.
According to the police report, a 4th Precinct officer spotted Gomez Osoria standing in front of the Atlantic Beach post office, at 2009 Park St., retrieving an object from inside a mailbox. A device used to take mail from the box was found with Gomez Osoria, police said, and he ran from the officer before he was caught. His car, a 1999 Acura, was found nearby, and Andrea Gomez was sitting in it. There police found stolen checks and several bills of forged U.S. currency. Gomez was also arrested after an investigation found several pieces of mail in her purse, according to police.
Osoria Gomez was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and possession of burglars’ tools. Gomez was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, seven counts of fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and second-degree unlawful possession of marijuana. They were arraigned in First District Court in Hempstead on Dec. 26, and were due back in court on Friday.
Paladino did not say whether the Atlantic Beach arrests were connected to the incidents across Lynbrook and Nassau.
New mailboxes were installed across New York City after a rash of thefts last year, including one incident in which a Queens man was arrested for stealing 346 checks from mailboxes that totaled more than $400,000.
Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach said that in addition to the replacement of mailboxes, security was also heightened around the village. “We have increased patrols in certain areas, including surveillance I’m not at liberty to disclose,” he said. “Residents are reminded to use caution when sending valuables through the mail.”