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PARMA, Ohio (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered a growing investigation into thieves stealing your mail.

Police reports show the crooks are forging and cashing checks they find in the mail to steal big bucks from your bank account.

The I-Team has learned that the thieves are stealing mail by breaking into mailboxes. It has happened in recent weeks in Parma, Rocky River and Richmond Heights.

We’ve obtained records showing at least 19 people have filed police reports saying they had checks believed to be stolen in the mail. Those checks, then, were cashed for a total of about $130,000.

A witness in Richmond Heights called police as he watched mail get stolen.

He told 911, “They’re stealing from the mailbox, right now. They just took some stuff out the mailbox.”

Police video shows officers chase a car, but the suspects got away leaving behind only a mail bin in the middle of the road.

Other police video shows that Rocky River Police also chased a car with people suspected of breaking into a mailbox, but they also got away.

Sharon Waffen and her husband told us they got hit by the mail thieves.

“They wrote each check for $5,000, so we were in the hole for $10,000,” Waffen said. “It’s astonishing. You can put your mail in the mailbox. It doesn’t get where it’s supposed to because someone steals it before it goes.”

Police think thieves are getting into mailboxes using stolen master keys. Local detectives and postal inspectors are investigating.

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

The Postal Service says, especially at night, instead of putting mail in one of the collections boxes, go into a post office lobby.

You can get into some around-the-clock and drop off mail inside.

Meanwhile, you might also see notices on mailboxes telling you to go inside, but the Postal Service has not put out a widespread alert.

Sharon Waffen and her husband want you to be aware.

“It was quite disturbing,” she said.

While the stolen checks are getting most of the attention, the I-Team has also heard from viewers saying other mail they’ve sent has completely disappeared.