PINE BEACH — Think twice about dropping sensitive or valuable mail into an outside mailbox as would-be scammers could be lying in wait. That was the message from police on Monday as a makeshift "mailbox fishing" device was found in a U.S. Postal Service collection box outside of the borough post office.

Police shared a photo of the homemade tool, which was a rewritable CD on a string with a sticky, glue-like substance on one edge that could be used pull mail out of the box.

Comments on the police department's Facebook post included some locals who said they were victims of such fishing and had their checks "washed" for much larger amounts.

The criminal practice has happened before in New Jersey.

Less than two months ago, Toms River police shared a similar warning about mail being stolen out of collection boxes.

In January, eight U.S. Postal Service collection boxes were damaged or pried open in Morristown, according to police there.

There were also several arrests in Fair Lawn for similar mail fishing, as reported by, which pointed to a number of other communities that had seen mailboxes targeted this winter.

In September 2018, six men from Paterson were charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office with stealing $300,000 in checks from USPS mail collection boxes in Passaic, Bergen, Morris, Essex, and Middlesex counties.

Last tax season, two people were charged in Glen Ridge with fishing two dozen checks from victims, many addressed to the IRS, for a total of more than $116,000.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service recommends the following tips to protect outgoing mail:

  • Deposit outgoing mail at your local Post Office or hand your mail to a uniformed letter carrier
  • When using a blue collection box, deposit your mail before the last pickup time of the day
  • Do your best not to let your outgoing mail sit in a mailbox overnight

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