CLEVELAND (WJW) — The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is confirming a “recent trend in blue box thefts” in Northern Ohio.

Checks and gift cards are being taken from the drive-through collection boxes that are located next to Post Offices in several cities.

Broadview Heights Police warned about the thefts in their city and in North Royalton on Facebook. The latest city to be targeted is Middleburg Heights.

“We got involved in the investigation over the weekend,” said Police Chief Edward Tomba. “They’re not breaking into them, they actually have keys to get into them.”

The Chief says the thieves then pilfer through the mail and take whatever they can and discard the rest.

“So where those keys came from we don’t know yet and I’m sure law enforcement’s going to eventually find out,” said Chief Tomba.

On Monday, warning signs were posted on blue box collection boxes asking people to, “Please use boxes inside the building, please!”

Some victims have reported their checks being stolen, washed and written for much higher amounts.

Jill Jakab’s check for $3,500 was stolen from one of the mailboxes at the post office in Lyndhurst.  

“So I wrote a check for my daughter’s wedding deposit and took it to the post office on a Sunday and by Monday I was notified by my bank that it was cashed so I started to panic,” she said.

Jakab quickly contacted her bank and filed a report with the police.

“They said it’s just crazy, it’s all over the place, it’s so bad,” said Jill.

Because of her fast response, Jill was able to recoup the money and is warning others to be careful mailing checks and to watch their accounts closely.

“If you’re not on top of it and check your statements … you might not know that the money’s gone and it might be too late to get it back which is really sad,” said Jill.

Chief Tomba says he understands that the drive-thru mailboxes are convenient but is advising everyone to physically take their mail inside the post office right now.

“And talk to the person you’re sending it to making sure they got it,” said Chief Tomba.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service confirms that they are working with local police investigating the thefts, but said they’re not providing specifics at this time, “as not to jeopardize the integrity of the cases.”

Stealing mail is a federal offense and can result in significant federal prison time and fines. 

Anyone with information related to the blue collection box thefts is asked to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.