New Bedford Police are warning the public to be careful about placing checks in mailboxes, as they say there has been an increase in thieves stealing those checks.

“We have seen an increase of checks being fished out of U.S. Postal mailboxes and then fraudulently cashed and altered for higher amounts,” police shared in a graphic posted to the department’s official Facebook page.

Police said the U.S. Postal Service is aware of the incidents.

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The graphic displayed a blue public mailbox, and did not specify if checks were also being taken from residential mailboxes as well. However, theft of checks from both types of mailboxes has been an ongoing issue across the country since last August, according to one study.

Thieves apparently just go through your residential mailbox and look for possible checks, or steal keys from postal service employees and use them to open the blue public mailboxes and search for checks there.

New Bedford Police suggested waiting until as close to mail delivery as possible before dropping a check in a mailbox, or avoid using mailboxes altogether by either going into the post office and handing it to a postal employee or skipping the checks and using online banking instead.

If you do have to mail a physical check, experts say you should never write your social security numbers on a check for any reason, as it makes it too easy for thieves to go beyond just cashing the check and instead can steal your entire identity.

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