Last week, the two conveniently placed mail drop-off boxes in the rear of the Orange Post Office at 36 Old Tavern Road, along with others around town, suddenly disappeared
Some may think it’s one of Donald Trump’s “evil” plans to interfere with the upcoming election, as was expressed on social media. (Police and the First Selectman denied this rumor).
What Actually Happened?
A couple of local Facebook posts reported that checks had been stolen from the boxes, were washed, and rewritten (on the real owner’s account) for a different amount.
But Old Tavern wasn’t the only location from which this occurred.
This was verified by First Selectman Jim Zeoli, who stated that a town employee had dropped mail off at 8 a.m. outside of Town Hall and by 10:30 a.m. someone was trying to pass fraudulent checks from his account, adding, “There have been multiple cases from post office drop boxes.”
Zeoli said the mail theft prompted the removal of these boxes and “They will be replaced with a more secure version.”
Asst. Police Chief Max Martins said the department has received several complaints since last week, and that the same thing is happening throughout the state.
“Some checks are being cashed locally, but they’ve also been used out of state,” he said.
This is an ongoing investigation on which several agencies are working to solve.
For the time being, Martins suggests bringing your mail inside the post office building or handing it to a postal carrier directly when you need to send something, even though it may not be as convenient as a drive-by mail dropbox or leaving it in your mailbox for pick up.
He added that the new, more secure models should be installed soon, which would bring you back the convenience and the sense of security when paying bills, sending important paperwork, or returning your mail-in ballots.
On the You Know You’re From Orange Facebook page, resident Mary Hurley suggested that everyone “Follow up with your bank statements. Look for checks cashed by unknown Payees or for different amounts than intended. It might also be a good idea to follow up with intended recipients to make sure they received the checks (ex: look up your utility bill online and make sure they show your check posted).
“If you discover any fraud, get copies of the cashed checks from the bank. File a police report. You can also file a report with the postmaster if you believe the fraud happened through the mail,” she wrote.
2020 was a very strange year, between the virus that kept us locked up at home for several months; disrupted our children’s educational routine; forced the cancellation of every traditional event (fairs, carnivals, plays, etc.) in town, and brought us to cast doubt on the way our country is being run, it was natural for the first thought on the mailbox removal to be that the Trump administration and his distrust in mail-in ballots (even though he votes by mail) was the reason for their sudden disappearance just weeks before the election. – Not the case, though.
Be assured that the Postal Service and several police departments throughout the state are working on this situation, (Orange is NOT the only town affected)