Unfortunately, porch pirates tend to come out in full force during the holidays, boldly swiping packages right from peoples' front doors. And now, Colorado mail carriers are warning residents about another route thieves are taking this holiday season.

According to CBS News, the U.S. Postal Service has seen a recent surge in crimes targeting checks and money being sent through the mail.

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In some cases, criminals are taking letters with suspected money in them directly from residential mailboxes or the big blue collection boxes. A postal worker in Castle Rock, Colorado, explained that thieves often steal pink or yellow envelopes, especially around the holidays, assuming there is a check, gift card, or cash inside.

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The Federal Reserve reports that criminals are using chemicals to remove the ink from stolen checks. "Check washing" allows thieves to either sell the blank check or write in whatever they want. Theives are also picking off checks paying government assistance, Social Security, or unemployment benefits.

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In addition to taking letters straight from mailboxes, the USPS is also experiencing an increase in attacks on letter carriers and mail fraud incidents. More than 300 mail carriers were robbed in the first half of 2023. This alarming statistic is on pace to exceed the previous year's 412 robberies.

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Fraudsters frequently use arrow keys to gain access to postal boxes in order to take letters, checks, and other valuables. Criminals will also steal the master keys that open residential mailbox clusters. Another method they use is pulling checks out of collection boxes using homemade tools, including strings tied to bottles drenched in glue.

Instead of sending a check through the mail to pay bills, it's suggested to use the services' apps or provided transaction portal. For gifting purposes, funds could be sent via an e-card, rather than through regular mail.

If you do need to send money through the mail, the USPS recommends patrons drop their letters off directly at a local post office, rather than placing them in a public or personal mailbox. Another precaution senders can take is to use white envelopes instead of ones that are pastel or brightly colored.

The USPS also notes that people should avoid allowing both incoming and outgoing mail from sitting in their mailboxes for too long.

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