Woman in custody in mail theft cases

Abandoned car held items from 2 counties, Baltimore, police say

BeCraft traced to hotel

March 27, 2001|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

An Elkridge woman who had been indicted on charges of stealing outgoing mail from residential mailboxes is in jail after police found her abandoned car in Baltimore - with more than 100 pieces of mail in the glove box.

Mary Elizabeth BeCraft, 22, of the 6500 block of Vert Drive was arrested Friday and had not been charged as of late yesterday as a result of the find; instead, she was arrested on an outstanding warrant stemming from previous mail thefts.

BeCraft was in jail yesterday being held on bail.

In the latter cases, BeCraft is accused of chemically altering checks found in residents' outgoing mail, making them out to herself or to a fictitious name and cashing them.

But the letters found in the glove box significantly widen the investigation, police said.

Among the mail found in BeCraft's 1996 turquoise Pontiac Sunbird last week were cards, photographs, tax returns and utility bills, said Howard County police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn.

The mail was from addresses in Howard and Baltimore counties and Baltimore, she said.

Investigators are trying to "catalog" the find, Llewellyn said.

Officers plan to contact the people who sent the mail as quickly as they can to let them know their mail did not reach its intended destination, she said.

BeCraft was arrested Feb. 11 on fraud, theft and forgery charges after police said she tried to cash a check made out to a "Kelly Whitehead" at a North Laurel bank.

Police said then that the arrest stemmed from an alert sent to area banks after they received complaints about stolen mail from as many as 30 people.

BeCraft was released then on a $2,500 bond.

Less than a month later, police received another call from a bank saying that a woman, this time using the name "Mary BeCraft," had tried to cash a check. Investigators took out a warrant but did not immediately find the woman. A Howard County grand jury indicted her in three cases.

On Thursday, Baltimore police called Howard County investigators to tell them they had found an abandoned car that had been involved in an accident, Llewellyn said.

Howard police had the car towed to the county and searched the car. It was then that they found the mail and a chemical they believed had been used to alter the checks, she said.

They also found a hotel receipt for the Comfort Inn on Security Boulevard in Baltimore County. BeCraft was arrested there Friday.

Doug Bem of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said yesterday that inspectors are involved in the case but that no decision has been made on whether to file federal charges.

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