HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — In Homewood, there are worries about mail being stolen at collection boxes across the city.

The Homewood Police Department told CBS 42 it has noticed and uptick over the last two months, and it is investigating several active cases of mail theft.

The police said people are breaking into the blue collection boxes outside post offices.

“Taking everything and sorting out what they want and then going from there as far as committing other crimes,” HPD Sergeant John Carr said.

Carr pointed to tax season, saying checks to the IRS are a main target.

“They’re targeting those checks and what they’re doing is washing those checks, as we call it, changing who it’s made out to, and they’re taking people for quite a bit of money,” Carr said.

Local resident, Susie Ankenbrandt, said someone close to her had a personal experience with a donation check.

(Courtesy of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service)

“And someone got a hold of the check and forged it and ended up depositing it and getting it cashed in their name,” Ankenbrandt said. “So I think it’s definitely happening for sure, and I think you just have to be so careful.”

She and the police said awareness is key. Then, take extra precaution like dropping off your mail before the last collection time or mailing inside the post office.

“For me and my job with Young Life I just have to be very aware of what I’m mailing and be very careful with things that I’m mailing and make sure that I mail them,” Ankenbrandt said. “I have to pay extra to do it that way just to make sure that it’s safe.”

“It may be inconvenient to get out of the car and walk into the post office to mail, but how much more inconvenient is it going to be when you’re trying to recover your credit and your financial loss,” Carr said.

Homewood police said it is dedicated to catching the perpetrators and holding them accountable for the felony.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service told CBS 42 if you see anyone hanging around a blue collection box in evening or early morning hours, call local police immediately and then report it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 or on its website.    

If you are a victim of mail theft, you can call that number or report it here.

(Courtesy of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service)