Body shop owner says someone stole insurance checks from mail

CHARLOTTE — Eric Foxx owns 5 Star Auto Collision on South Boulevard in Charlotte.

His business operates as many body shops do — insurance companies issue paper checks for car repairs, so he relies heavily on the mail.

Foxx says two checks totaling almost $13,000 did not make it to him recently. He says someone cashed the checks, but it wasn’t him.

“It’s happening. The checks are just not making it to their proper destination,” Foxx said.

“Major loss, major time consuming. We’ve got thousands of dollars in parts already spent out, time repairing the customer(s’) vehicle(s), and we haven’t been compensated,” Foxx told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “So, it’s not a good feeling for the body shops right now if you’re experiencing this.”

Foxx says it took months of going back and forth with the insurance companies and the banks, but about five weeks after this interview, he told Stoogenke he finally got his money.

In a lot of cases, thieves attack letter carriers. They want their keys, which are called “arrow” keys and can open big blue mailboxes as well as cluster ones. That gives them access to steal checks.

In fact, the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General released a report this month saying “more than 2,000 assaults or robberies of postal carriers have been reported” since 2020.

Channel 9 has reported on multiple examples locally, including one last week, which happened not far from 5 Star Auto Collision, but seems unrelated.

In previous news reports, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service told Stoogenke:

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s mission is to support and protect the U.S. Postal Service and its employees, infrastructure, and customers; enforce the laws that defend our nation’s mail system from illegal or dangerous use; and ensure public trust in mail. U.S. Postal Inspectors take seriously its role to safeguard America and will continue to aggressively pursue perpetrators that use the U.S. Mail system to further their illegal activity. Every day, the U.S. Postal Service safely and efficiently delivers millions of checks, money orders, credit cards and merchandise. Unfortunately, such items are also attractive to thieves and that is why Postal Inspectors across the country are at work to protect your mail.”

What’s being done about this problem?

- Postal inspectors say they’re working on new ways to prevent attacks on letter carriers.

- The Postal Police Officers Association, which is a separate organization, used to patrol the streets, but the head of the organization says postal police are now required to focus more on postal facilities. He’s fighting to restore its former duties.

- U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has been publicly urging postal officials to do the same.

Stoogenke suggests that if your mail gets stolen, keep a close eye on your bank accounts, freeze your credit (if you haven’t already), and follow these eight ways to protect yourself:

- Pick up mail promptly. Don’t leave it in the mailbox for a long time.

- If you can’t pick it up promptly, use USPS’s hold service.

- Drop mail in blue boxes close to pick-up times.

- Better yet, drop off mail inside the post office directly if you’re worried.

- If you’re expecting money in the mail and don’t get it, don’t hesitate to tell the sender immediately.

- Do not mail cash.

- If you move, make sure everyone important has your new address.

- Use gel pens to write checks. Gel pens are hard to erase, especially the uni-ball 207. You can find them almost everywhere and they’re pretty cheap, costing about $2 each.

Click here for a few more tips.

If you think someone stole your mail, report it here or contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.

VIDEO: 9 Investigates a rise in attacks on mail carriers to steal mailbox keys