SALEM — A postcard. Checks and deposit receipts. A box containing five pairs of glasses.
And five credit or debit cards in the names of five different people, none of them Wensly Plaisir, according to a police report.
These were among the items found by police after spotting and arresting Plaisir, 22, of 50 Palmer St., Apt. 13, Salem, early Tuesday morning at the intersection of Tremont and School streets.
Pleasure is currently being held in what is commonly referred to as a “mailbox fishing” scheme. Salem police and the United States Postal Inspection Service are investigating, police said Tuesday evening.
A neighbor with home security cameras had spotted Pleasure approaching a mailbox outside “Your Neighborhood Market” just after 3 a.m. Tuesday. She called the police.
She then provided a video that a police report said showed a red Kia with Maryland plates parked in the parking lot. A few minutes later, a man briefly approached the box, then ran to his car as another vehicle passed. Moments later, the man was back at the box, then pulled something out.
Patrolman Matthew Fisher was nearby and arrived just as the Kia pulled out of the parking lot. Fisher stopped the car.
It appears Pleasure was about to head for the Gallows Hill neighborhood – on one of the two phones found in the Kia, police noticed active GPS directions to an address where another mailbox is located.
Later Tuesday, Plaisir pleaded not guilty to four counts of theft, five counts of receiving a stolen credit card, breaking into a dealership, driving after license suspension and possession of a burglary tool.
This tool: a long black shoelace, with a partially full bottle of dish soap attached to the end and three glue traps attached to it. Police found him sitting in a metal paint tray on the passenger side floor of the Kia.
Police believe Plaisir would drop the shoelace in mailboxes and then remove it, along with the mail that had stuck to the glue traps.
A Salem District Court judge set his bond at $2,500 cash, but revoked Pleasure’s release in an unrelated Dorchester gun case, meaning Pleasure will remain in custody for at least 90 days.
A hearing on the status of the case was scheduled for May 4.
After police posted information about the incident on social media on Tuesday evening, several residents described finding a sticky substance on other mailboxes in the city.
Police have asked anyone with information about the mailbox fishing robberies to call their Criminal Investigations Division at 978-745-9700 or the Anonymous Tip Line at 978-619-5627.
Police are urging anyone who may have been victims of mailbox fishing or mail theft to contact the U.S. Postal Service at 877-876-2455 or the Salem Police Department at 978-744-1212.
The US Postal Service has retrofitted many older mailboxes with new slots just wide enough to slip a letter through, some with metal pieces inside that further prevent someone from trying to pull something out.
On its website, the post office also recommends that people drop their mail off at mailboxes as close to the usual collection time as possible, or bring it inside the post office directly to the courier.
Reports from around the country in recent years cite incidents in which thieves targeted mailboxes at certain times of the month when people might be sending rent or mortgage checks or tax payments.
Forensic reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis