Mail-theft ring investigation underway after Deltona woman's mortgage check stolen

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — A Volusia County bar owner said she went to the Post Office to mail her mortgage payment, but was surprised when she learned someone else cashed her check.

The postal inspector's office said a ring of thieves got ahold of her money and worries there may be other victims.

Deputies found at least one suspect.

Investigators said the thieves dropped something heavy, like a magnet tied to a line, and fished mail out of the box.

The owner of Blackies Bar in DeBary, who asked not to be identified, said she never sends anything from her home mailbox in fear of it being robbed.

That's why she dropped her $2,000 mortgage check in a blue box outside the Deltona post office.

She thought it was safe there, until she got a call saying the money never made it.

The check cleared the bank because someone else cashed it, investigators said.

A postal inspector said someone used a chemical to whitewash the ink off the name line of the check, and replaced it with their own name.

"I couldn't believe it. I was like, ‘Is this someone in your office? Do you know who this is? Or you know, what happened?’ And they were like, ‘No, we have no idea who this person is,’” said the woman.

A few weeks later, deputies in Hillsborough County caught the suspect trying to cash another stolen check at a bank outside Tampa.

The check was for about $600 and was mailed by a different woman in Deltona.

When that happened the bar owner thought she had justice, but then found out the man wasn’t arrested.

Deputies said it would have only been a small theft case for them, so they turned it over to the postal inspector's office, which has identified several people involved in a large mail-theft ring across Central Florida.

A federal investigation is ongoing.

Anyone who thinks they might have had something stolen from a mailbox should call authorities.

The thief could get three to five years in federal prison for stealing mail.