Mailbox locks recommended to deter thieves

November 06, 1995|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Recounting the recent chase and arrest of two men suspected of mail theft, a U.S. postal inspector recommended that people take security matters into their own hands -- by putting locks on their rural roadside mailboxes.

Inspector Larry Fryer said mail left in a roadside receptacle is vulnerable, and thefts are more prevalent than people think.

The object often has been credit cards. Northern Baltimore County has been one of the hardest-hit areas. The latest arrests occurred there Thursday, in Glenarm, where officers had been on a stakeout for more than a week.

The two men, believed linked to a theft ring, were spotted by the team of local and federal authorities.

In a chase, the suspects' car was stuck in mud on the lawn of a home. The men ran into woods, where one was captured quickly.

The other eluded a police search, in which helicopters and dogs were used, for several hours until a homeowner found the suspect in his garage and held the man at gunpoint, Inspector Fryer said.

He identified the suspects as John Adebisi Coker, 22, and Owen Ukpoma, 24. Both gave addresses in North Baltimore. Inspector Fryer noted that Mr. Ukpoma had been free on bail awaiting trial on mailbox theft charges from an arrest in April.

Inspector Fryer said anyone with a rural mailbox should examine bank statements to account for all canceled checks, and refrain from putting valuable mail in unsecured boxes.

He said postal customers can leave an unlocked padlock in the mailbox, and the letter carrier will lock it after the delivery.

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