Dec. 1, 2018 By Christian Murray
Two men have been charged and face 7 years in prison for stealing mail from mailboxes in Richmond Hill and Forest Hills, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
Alvaro Martinez, 28, of Manhattan, and Luis Velazquez, 22, of the Bronx, were charged Thursday after being caught fishing for mail in a mailbox in Richmond Hills. Police then linked the pair to a number of mail box thefts in Forest Hills.
Both men have been charged with third-degree burglary, first-degree criminal tampering and other charges. Bail was set at $20,000 for Martinez and $10,000 for Velazquez, and both must return to court on Dec. 13.
Police observed Martinez with his hands near the opening slot of a mailbox at the intersection of Lefferts Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill at around 3:50 a.m. on Nov. 28. Velazquez was leaning on the box at the time.
When police approached the pair, they moved away but a shoestring was left dangling from the mailbox slot, authorities said. The U.S. Postal Police opened the box and found the shoestring attached to a juice bottle that was covered with glue.
“The defendants in this case were allegedly caught red handed with their makeshift rods in the belly of blue mailboxes,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown in a statement. “These two individuals allegedly sought to enrich themselves by taking advantage of others’ long held trust that once you place your mail in the box, it’ll get to the intended recipient.”
Police then found dozens of pieces of mail along with mouse and glue traps, commonly slathered on an object used to fish mail from boxes, in Velazquez’ car.
The police also uncovered surveillance video of Velazquez in front of a mailbox at around 4:35 a.m. on Oct. 29 at 64th Avenue and 108th Street, and another mailbox a block away. The video purports to show Velazquez inserting an object into the mailboxes and pulling it out again along with pieces of mail.
Meanwhile, on Nov. 17, shortly before 4 a.m., Martinez was observed on video surveillance standing in front of a blue mailbox at 62nd Drive and 108th Street also in Forest Hills. He could be seen on camera placing something inside the mailbox and then retrieving that item along with mail attached to it.