Police responding to a hit-and-run crash Monday morning found a cache of stolen mail, authorities said.

The bizarre incident began just after 7:30 a.m. when someone reported a vehicle stuck in a stream along the James F. Hall Trail near Apple Road.

“Officers determined that the operator of the vehicle had been driving on the bicycle trail westbound when the vehicle became disabled in the area of a pedestrian bridge,” said Lt. Andrew Rubin, a spokesman for the Newark Police Department. “The operator of the vehicle fled the scene of the collision.”

Near the vehicle, officers found outgoing mail that had been stolen from three U.S. Postal Service mailboxes early Monday – one at Ritter Lane and Beverly Road, another at East Main Street and Tyre Avenue and a third on Ruthar Drive in Harmony Hills.

Rubin said detectives are still trying to determine whether the incident is connected to earlier reports of mail being stolen.

In August and early September, four people reported checks being stolen from the mail.

The victims told police they mailed personal checks to pay bills, etc., and dropped them in mailboxes around Newark, Rubin said at the time. Someone stole the checks, altered them to increase their value and cashed them at locations around the country.

In total, more than $57,000 was stolen.

Rubin noted that police are not sure whether the checks were stolen while they were in the mailbox, on the way to the post office, at the post office or after they left the post office. All four victims used different mailboxes, he said.

Anyone with information about the stolen mail is asked to contact Lt. Fred Nelson at 302-366-7100, ext. 3119, or fnelson@newark.de.us.

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