Thieves are stealing checks from mailboxes, altering them to be worth more money and then cashing them in parts of Westchester and the Bronx, police say.
In Yonkers, Joseph Passavino said his wife deposited a check in the mail for a bill of $90, and when they checked their account, found it had been cashed for more than $3,000.
"She was in shock," said Passavino.
It took three weeks to sort it out with the bank, he said. Apparently, it was part of a larger pattern, with several similar cases reported across Yonkers and the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx. Sometimes people don't realize for weeks they've been ripped off.
It's not clear if it's one person or a group behind the thefts. Police and postal inspectors are still working to find out how the mail is being accessed.
Experts say people can sidetrack check-grabbing thieves by using a gel ink pen, which is resistant to chemical alteration, not leaving blank spaces on the check and dropping off mail directly at the post office.