By Mary O’Keefe
South Pasadena police arrested a man after he was found with mail that was allegedly stolen from mailboxes in La Crescenta and Highland Park.
German Jafar Martinez, 22, of Los Angeles was arrested after a witness in the Monterey Hills area of South Pasadena reported seeing a vehicle driving from mailbox to mailbox, said Sgt. Jim Valencia, South Pasadena Police Department.
“The investigation started on Dec. 15 with the witness report,” Valencia said.
The witness obtained a license plate number that returned to a Jeep registered to Martinez. The suspect was on probation from a previous narcotics offense.
“On Dec. 23 South Pasadena detectives conducted a probation search [at Martinez home in Los Angeles] and found several pieces of mail [allegedly] stolen from La Crescenta and Highland Park,” Valencia said.
The majority of the mail appeared to be stolen from La Crescenta and several pieces included checks that were either being delivered to residents or placed in the mailbox for a U.S. Postal mail carrier to pick up.
A La Cresenta resident was contacted by South Pasadena police and informed that some of his mail had been found but not before the suspect had already altered the business and personal checks.
They took the checks and tried to wash them of the written information and then use them for their personal use, the resident was told.
Most ink can be washed from a check using household cleansers without harming the pre-printed information. Pens with un-washable security ink are available at office supply stores.
There appeared to be an increase in mail being stolen during the holidays, said Sgt. Ray Harley, Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.
“This is a good time to remember not to leave your incoming mail or outgoing bills outside your home for pick up,” Harley said.
Two checkbooks were also recovered; one stolen during a vehicle burglary in Highland Park and the other belonged to a Canyon Country resident.
Martinez has prior convictions for forgery, receiving stolen property, possession of altered checks and possession of a controlled substance. At the time of his arrest was out on bail for a forgery arrest by Los Angeles Police Department on Dec. 12.