By: Richard L. Smith
Montclair Police took two Essex County males into custody and charged them with stealing checks from the mail in their township two years ago.
According to Montclair Police, beginning in June of 2021, the Montclair Police Department started receiving an influx of reports from township residents indicating the theft of checks from various local U.S. Post Office Mail collection boxes throughout town.
Officials said The Verona Police Department also experienced similar incidents.
After a review of the incident reports taken by the Verona Police Department, it was determined that the pattern of fraudulent activity was the same when compared to Montclair’s incidents.
Officials said to date, the Montclair Police Department has taken one hundred and forty-three (143) individual incident reports consisting of one hundred and ninety-four (194) stolen checks, totaling $2,018,446.02 in financial loss to township residents.
The Verona Police Department took approximately thirty-five (35) reports totaling a loss of $266,879.10, totaling an aggregate loss of $2,285,325.12 between the residents of Montclair and Verona.
Montclair Police said the investigation revealed that the victim(s) would place an envelope(s) containing personal and business check(s) into stand-alone mailboxes located within Montclair and Verona.
The mailed checks would never reach their intended destination and, instead, would be stolen. Shortly after the checks were placed into the mailbox, a fraudulent transaction would post to the victim’s respective bank account.
Police said the transactions were unauthorized withdrawals by various unknown persons using the victims’ stolen checks. On most occasions, the suspects altered and signed the checks and deposited them into anonymous bank accounts by mobile or ATM deposits.
According o Montclair Police, through various surveillance and search warrants, Detectives identified Noaha S. Dean, 26, from Bloomfield and Mr. Collin D. Crawford, 25, from East Orange, as two of the main suspects.
Police say Dean and Crawford had access to stolen USPS Arrow Keys to enter USPS mailboxes and would enter the mailboxes and steal the mail during the early morning hours.
According to Montclair Police, on Thursday, Dean was apprehended by members of the United States Marshalls Service on the following Montclair charges:
• Trafficking in Personal Identifying Information - 2nd Degree
• Conspiracy - 2nd Degree
• Trafficking - 2nd Degree
• Promotion of Organized Street Crime - 3rd Degree
• Receiving Stolen Property – 3rd Degree (fifteen counts)
• Forgery – 3rd Degree (four counts)
• Theft by Deception – 3rd degree (two counts)
Police charged Collin D. Crawford was charged in Montclair with:
• 3rd-degree Theft (four counts).
Both Crawford and Dean were additionally charged in Verona.
“This was a lengthy and extremely complex investigation, which was brought to a successful conclusion due to the diligence and hard work of these Montclair and Verona investigators. I commend all involved on their efforts” – Chief Todd Conforti.