Mail Fishing Arrest Made in Bloomfield

Friday, May 18, 2018

Mail Fishing Arrest Made in Bloomfield

Suspect believed to have been involved in theft of over 20 pieces of mail from other locations

BLOOMFIELD, NJ -- There have been a number of mailbox fishing thefts in our Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Nutley and other neighboring towns recently. Bloomfield Police have responded by conducting undercover surveillance of mailboxes late at night, and, shortly after midnight on Tuesday, arrested a man involved in a local syndicate.

Mail fishing is a low-tech crime in which rudimentary tools are covered with sticky substances to pluck bank documents, checks and birthday cards out of collection boxes. Perpetrators will often use a bottle with tac paper attached to scoop envelopes out of collection boxes, hence the term “fishing.” The spate of thefts started across the Hudson River in the Bronx, from where they eventually branched out to the rest of New York City before spreading locally. Police reports in the area have suggested that the most common time for mail fishing is Sunday nights.

On Tuesday, two Bloomfield Police detectives observed a van pull up outside of the 1296 Broad St. mailbox. Two men got out of the van and began to pry the mailbox open with a pry bar. When the detectives approached the suspects, one man fled on foot, one man drove in the van. The man in the van was apprehended, and identified as Johan Lake-Rodriguez, 26, from Paterson. In custody, he was identified as the man who had cashed two separate checks from victims in banks in Bloomfield, through video obtained by the BPD. His background check revealed prior charges from Paterson and Totowa, and he has links to an individual arrested in Glen Ridge last week for mail fishing. At the time of his arrest, he was in possession of over 20 pieces of mail from other locations. Investigation continuing.

Lake-Rodriguez’s accomplice escaped on foot and is being sought by police in their active investigation. Lake-Rodriguez is is currently in ECCF on the charges of theft, forgery, fraud, conspiracy to commit theft, conspiracy to commit forgery and conspiracy to commit fraud.

“Mail fishing is a very serious crime, one where victims may not even be aware that a theft was committed until months later, so we take these efforts to catch the perpetrators very seriously. So far, our department has received approximately 50 reports of residents being victims of mail fishing. We encourage residents to check on the status of checks, money orders, or even birthday cards sent in the mail, and immediately report any such envelope that did not reach its intended recipient as soon as possible,” said Director of Public Safety Samuel DeMaio. “The arresting officers in this incident did a great job of apprehending one suspect, and we are confident that we will be able to identify Mr. Lake-Rodriguez’s partner very soon.”

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