Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Police arrest man suspected in postal thefts

- By MediaNews Group

CHELTENHAM >> A Philadelph­ia man considered a prime suspect in the theft of numerous checks mailed at the Elkins Park Post Office and nearby locations was arrested Sept. 29 following a brief foot chase, according to Cheltenham police.

The thefts from USPS mailboxes in Cheltenham and surroundin­g jurisdicti­ons over the past several months resulted in stolen checks being altered and cashed at various financial institutio­ns in the region, police said. Debit cards and other financial instrument­s were also stolen and fraudulent­ly used, police said.

Many of the checks were reported stolen from the outside mailbox at the Elkins Park Post Office at 1800 Ashbourne Road, according to police.

The arrest of Keyon A. Clark, 22, of the 300 block of East Wister Street, Philadelph­ia, came after a Cheltenham police sergeant observed a male, later identified as Clark, standing by the drive-up mailbox at the Elkins Park Post Office at 3:11 a.m. Sept. 29, police said.

When the officer approached the male, he fled on foot into a wooded area, dropping multiple pieces of mail, police said. A Cheltenham police K9 unit tracked him through the woods and he was eventually apprehende­d, police said.

During a warrant search on a vehicle located nearby linked to Clark a loaded, stolen handgun; a .22-caliber rifle and additional pieces of stolen mail, deposit slips and other evidence linking Clark to the thefts were found, police said. A search warrant later executed on Clark’s residence in Philadelph­ia turned up additional evidence linking him to dozens more victims, many elderly, police said.

He was also wanted by North Wales Borough for access device fraud, police said.

Clark was charged with multiple counts of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, forgery, tampering with records, bad checks and identity theft, according to online court records.

He was arraigned before District Judge Edward Levine and released on $200,000 unsecured bail. A preliminar­y hearing is scheduled for Oct. 13.

Following his arrest, police stated victims were still being identified and asked anyone who has been a recent victim of check fraud who sent checks through the mail report the incident to Cheltenham detectives.

Recent reports of checks stolen at the Elkins Park Post Office drive-up mailbox and later altered and cashed include three reported Oct. 1; one reported Oct. 3 altered for $9,900; 10 reported Oct. 3, with one altered to $5,000 and the others still missing, police said.

Another resident reported Oct. 3 three checks mailed at the post office were missing, with one altered to $5,000 and the other two missing, police said. Two other checks reported mailed and missing were cancelled and recovered, police said.

Oct. 4 a resident reported five checks mailed at the Elkins Park Post Office had been stolen and altered, one for $2,941, with the total amount of the fraudulent checks at $5,662 cashed at an unknown location, police said.

The case is still under investigat­ion and anyone with informatio­n is asked to call Cheltenham police at 215-8851600 or email PoliceTips@ cheltenham-township.org. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

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