Mail stolen from Montgomery County mailboxes

Montgomery County residents are on alert after several reports of stolen mail in the area. Police said in some cases, the thieves are finding checks, altering them and attempting to cash them at local banks.

The crimes date back to Oct., and authorities say there are steps you can take so you don't become the next victim.

Longtime Derwood resident David Jarrett said there's one thing he won't put in his mailbox.

Jarrett explained, "We simply have never placed checks in anything other than a federal mailbox."

Several months ago, he reported seeing something suspicious.

"We noticed a vehicle stopping at each mailbox and checking it," Jarrett added.

Just days ago, in the same neighborhood, police said criminals went a step further.

"Mail has been taken from a street side residential mailbox, and the suspect or suspects has attempted to pass or has passed a check made out to someone else," Montgomery County Police Captain Paul Starks said.

Investigators say not all of the crimes may be linked to the same person.

It's a federal offense to steal mail, but local law enforcement officers are also on the case because checks have been altered.

Here's what Capt. Starks advises you do to protect yourself.

"If you don't want to use electronic means or go online to pay bills, just take that letter and hand it to your letter carrier, or bring it to a post office or a locked mail drop box," he explained.

Montgomery County residents are encouraged to call Postal Inspectors at 202-636-1514 to report mail theft.