Feng Chen, a 31-year-old New York man, was arrested Tuesday and charged with theft for allegedly taking stimulus checks from mailboxes.
Police say they found him searching through mailboxes in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.
When he was arrested, Chen was carrying stimulus payments "totaling more than $12,000, credit cards, opened envelopes and letters bearing the names of various individuals and mail addresses," police said.
A 31-year-old man in New York City was arrested on Tuesday after police said he stole nine stimulus payments from mailboxes in Brooklyn that were worth $12,000.
Police arrested Feng Chen after finding him looking in mailboxes and a medical collection bin in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood, the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York said in a statement.
Prosecutors said police found Chen carrying stimulus payments "totaling more than $12,000, credit cards, opened envelopes and letters bearing the names of various individuals and mail addresses" when he was arrested.
Chen was charged with theft and faces up to five years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors say he stole mail, "including credit cards, multiple checks and nine Economic Impact Payments (EIP) from the United States Treasury Department, otherwise known as 'stimulus payments.'"
"The COVID-19 crisis has placed tremendous stress on underserved communities across this country. The Economic Impact Payments are, in many cases, the lifeline needed by these individuals to stay afloat during this crisis," Philip Bartlett, the inspector-in-charge at the United States Postal Inspection Service's New York Division, said in the statement.
"When Mr. Chen stole these checks, he robbed recipients of these much-needed funds," he continued. "Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners have no tolerance for the theft of mail, especially during these unprecedented times."
Richard Donoghue, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said prosecutors would go after people taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis.
"This Office will vigorously prosecute all those who seek to take advantage of the public health crisis," he said. "I commend the NYPD police officers for their truly outstanding work and service under difficult conditions."
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