Boca Raton police say they arrested a Broward County man who had 13 credit cards issued to other people, 12 checks, and 49 letters in his car, all allegedly from a mail theft ring targeting middle class to upper-income neighborhoods.
The arrest report for Michael Merisier Junior, 32, said he is so dedicated to scouting homes and waiting for mail deliveries that he would use a bottle in his car to urinate in. Police arrested Merisier shortly after an officer observed him suspiciously circling a neighborhood off St. Andrews Boulevard.
Another officer said Merisier failed to stop at the stop sign exiting the neighborhood and when he conducted the traffic stop, Merisier was looking through several credit cards to find his own. Police say they asked to search the car and Merisier later admitted to being a part of a "large" group of people who scout homes. He allegedly told police he's given addresses to go to.
Police say the quiet middle-class to upper-income neighborhoods with empty driveways during the day are a playground for thieves.
"I usually don’t get home till later on in the day," said David Cohen who lives on the street where two homes had mail taken from their mailbox.
The two homes targeted on NW 31 Street in the Strathmore neighborhood are shuttered. One neighbor who did not want to be named said he witnesses Merisier in the neighborhood the day he was arrested and thought his behavior was suspicious.
"I was cutting the grass out there. I watched him go around the neighborhood 3 or 4 times and he went down to a house on the street there and stayed on his cellphone the whole time he was driving around," said the man.
Officers say Merisier admitted to making up to $6,000 in three months. He allegedly said he uses the stolen credit cards to buy gift cards, then uses the gift cards to buy money orders and then cashes out the money orders.
"It's unreal, terrible," said Cohen. "I’ll probably leave a car in the driveway now."
Among some of the stolen mail, police named a woman in West Palm Beach who said she's been having issues with identity theft since June 2017 and that someone changed her mailing address to an address in Plantation. The Economic Crimes Unit is still investigating this case.
Merisier is charged with fraud and larceny.
Boca Raton police say they had increased patrols in the neighborhoods along the St. Andrews Boulevard Corridor due to recent burglaries.
Some tips from Boca Raton Police to protect your mail:
- Never leave your mail in the mailbox overnight. Remove it as soon as possible.
- Contact the Post Office to put your mail on hold if you are going out of town.
- Use a P.O. Box if you are receiving personal and financial information.