Lincoln Park mail thief was carrying 65 credit cards, officials say

Gustavo Balleza | Chicago Police Department; Multiplottr

CHICAGO — A Lincoln Park man suspected of committing at least 15 mail theft burglaries over the past month had about 65 bank cards in other people’s names when U.S. Postal Inspectors and Chicago police took him into custody Tuesday, officials said.

Prosecutors charged him with aggravated identity theft and other charges, but they refused to file burglary charges, according to his CPD arrest report.

Postal inspectors arrested Gustavo Balleza, 36, after they saw him break into mailboxes and steal mail in the 2300 block of North Clark around 3:15 a.m. Tuesday. Balleza lives on the same block where he was arrested, the arrest report said.

Officials said he was carrying “numerous” fake IDs, stolen mail, and dozens of bank cards issued in other people’s names. One of the counterfeit IDs included the personal information of a 67-year-old man.

Balleza also had a flashlight, pliers, two screwdrivers, a lockpick, and sets of keys when investigators stopped him, police said.

Prosecutors approved felony charges of unlawful possession of a credit or debit card and aggravated identity theft of a person over 60 years old, along with misdemeanor charges of theft and criminal trespassing to a residence.

However, Chicago police noted in the arrest report that a Cook County assistant state’s attorney “rejected” burglary charges. In a Wednesday night press release, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said felony burglary charges were “pending.”

Judge Kelly McCarthy released Balleza from custody on Wednesday afternoon.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com