By JIM DWYER
The streets of Upper Manhattan were quiet, but a police officer saw two men standing in front of a blue mailbox at Broadway and Academy Street.
It was around 1:30 a.m., Jan. 17.
One of the men was holding a plastic bottle, which was tied to a string. While his partner stood lookout, the other man lowered the bottle into the mailbox, as if he were feeding a line off a pier, played the string a bit, then pulled it out.
Four pieces of mail were stuck to the bottle.
When the police officer stepped forward, the two men took off, leaving behind the plastic bottle. They were quickly caught. The mail was stuck on the bottle with glue.
“Such devices are commonly used to obtain mail from inside of mailboxes,” Officer Vito Guagenti said in a criminal complaint.
This may be the age of cybercrime, but in some New York neighborhoods crooks are on a spree of fishing old-fashioned snail mail out of street corner mailboxes, using decidedly low-tech tools like plastic bottles, glue and string.