Authorities round up mail theft suspects in ‘Operation Hook, Line & Sinker’

Seven South Florida residents were rounded up in early-morning raids Thursday in connection with a ring of mail thieves who were allegedly altering and cashing checks they fished out of postal collection boxes.

The arrests were part of “Operation Hook, Line Sinker,” a yearlong investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Coral Springs Police Department and Miami Dade Police Department in collaboration with the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Investigators said the group used theft methods as simple as putting string with something sticky at the end — duct tape, for example — inside a mailbox and snagging envelopes. During a Thursday afternoon news conference, investigators demonstrated how some of the homemade devices can be used to reach down and pull mail out of the boxes.

“They are taking these devices, they are placing them in collection boxes and literally fishing the outbound mail from collection boxes,” said Antonio Gomez, inspector in charge at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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