Middlebury Police Log: Police warn of mailbox scams

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury police are warning residents to be vigilant about criminals “fishing” in blue mail collection boxes in search of mail that might include checks. 

Middlebury police Chief Tom Hanley last week alerted the public that the perpetrator(s) are dropping a weighted device coated with a sticky substance into the collection box to retrieve mail. The criminals then look for checks and may discard any envelopes not containing checks, according to Hanley.

Once the culprits get the checks, they treat the ink on the checks with a chemical to “wash” them, covering the payee name and amount, and then cash the checks before the payee realizes they’ve been diverted.

These incidents have occurred at collection boxes in both Middlebury and East Middlebury, authorities said. If you’ve dropped a check in the mail at a blue collection box recently, confirm with the intended recipient that they’ve received the check.

Middlebury police Sgt. Vegar Boe added it appears some of the stolen checks aren’t immediately being deposited or cashed by the culprit(s), with evidence also suggesting new checks are being created using the victim’s account information.

In other action last week, Middlebury police:

• Enforced Middlebury’s overnight winter parking ban in the downtown area on Dec. 12, 13, 15, 17 and 18.

• Removed a houseless person from an Exchange Street business at around 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 12.

• Assisted Middlebury Regional EMS with an out-of-control patient on Porter Medical Center campus on Dec. 12.

• Interviewed a Foote Street resident about a suspected case of vandalism to their vehicle on Dec. 12.

• Were informed of the theft of a bike from the downtown area on Dec. 12.

• Investigated a reported check fraud case involving a Middlebury business on Dec. 12.

• Assisted with a child custody dispute at a John Graham Court residence on Dec. 13.

• Assisted MREMS on emergency calls to the Valley View Drive and North Pleasant Street areas on Dec. 13.

• Helped Vermont State Police serve a temporary restraining order on a person in the Jackson Lane neighborhood on Dec. 14.

• Received a report on Dec. 14 that someone had stolen and cashed a money order that had been intended for a Main Street resident. The case remains under investigation.

• Received a report of a Middlebury Union High School student in possession of “explicit images” on their cell phone while on campus on Dec. 14.

• Investigated a reported fight between two MUHS students on Dec. 14.

• Responded to a report of a man urinating in the Ilsley Public Library. Police said the case is under investigation.

• Took into custody Cameron Gelenzinsky, 30, of Middlebury on an outstanding arrest warrant on Dec. 14. Police said Gelenzinsky turned himself in at the police station.

• Assisted a local family in wake of the death of a family member on Dec. 14.

• Received a report on Dec. 14 of a check being stolen from an Oak Drive resident’s mailbox.

• Responded to a noise complaint in the Valley View neighborhood on Dec. 15.

• Received word that someone had stolen, altered and deposited a check reported stolen from a Case Street resident’s mailbox on Dec. 15.

• Cited Megan Coon, 37, of Middlebury for driving under the influence of drugs, after she had been involved in a vehicle crash on Route 7 South on Dec. 15. Police said Coon was released pending the results of a blood test.

• Responded to a report of a utility pole being on fire near the intersection of Upper Plains Road and Route 125 on Dec. 16.

• Received a report that a vehicle was causing a traffic hazard while positioned in the intersection of Main and Cross streets on Dec. 16.  Police said the vehicle was removed.

• Attempted to serve a temporary restraining order on a person at an Elm Street residence on Dec. 16. Police said the person wasn’t home.

• Responded to multiple reports of vehicles sliding off local roads during the Dec. 16 snowstorm.

• Helped a motorist whose vehicle was stuck in the snow at the intersection of Seymour Street Extension and Pinewood Road on Dec. 17.

• Served a no-trespass order on what police described as an “unruly person” at a Washington Street business on Dec. 18.

• Stood by during a Migrant Justice protest in the Court Street area on Dec. 18.

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