PUTNAM COUNTY, N.Y. - A Lake Carmel resident who was the victim of a mailbox thief that stole thousands of dollars worth of checks from some 20 mailboxes said he has spent hours sorting out the "mess" caused by the thefts.
Phil Sr., first realized he had been a victim of Isaiah Fredericks, 19, of Kent when his bank called to let him know several of his checks to different businesses had been cashed by one person.
"I would never have known something was wrong until I started receiving new bills with missed payments," he said.
After receiving the call from the bank, Philip called the Kent Police to report the crime. Once a police report had been filed, Kent Detective Ray Beauchesne, working with the District Attorney's Office, and the bank's financial investigations, was able to trace the checks back to Fredericks' account. At the same time, Beauchesne's investigation led to 20 other victims.
According to Beauchesne, Fredericks would drive around and look for mailboxes with the flags up showing there was outgoing mail. He would then steal checks made out to various businesses and deposit them into his own account through the ATM machine unsigned.
Fredericks has been charged with felony grand larceny, said Kent Police Chief Alex DiVernieri.
Philip hates to think what would have happened if he hadn't picked up the phone to report the crime.
"When I found out how many other people were targeted, I couldn't believe it," he said.
He also can't believe what a headache it has been to get his bills paid and straighten out the mess left behind.
"I almost missed a wedding because he took everything out of the box, including an invitation," Philip said. "Who knows what else I'm missing."
Philip was also surprised that banks don't usually review deposited checks to make sure they are endorsed and going to the right place.
"With an automatic deposit, anyone can deposit a check without even a signature," he said.
And, he's wondering why the U.S. Postal Service isn't getting involved with the case.
"It seems like it would be a federal crime," Phil said.
Now, Phil who was worried about banking online because of security issues, is giving that a second thought.
"I was worried about online thieves," he said. "I should have been worried about my mailbox."
Fredericks is scheduled to appear in court on July 20.
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