CHICAGO — It seems like just about everyone in Chicago has a postal service master key these days. Well, except for the mail carriers, who are losing theirs to armed robbers.
Another video of a mail theft surfaced yesterday, just as we learned more details about the Lincoln Park man arrested twice this month for stealing mail, identities, and possessing dozens of other people’s credit cards.
The new video, recorded by a West Loop residential building’s security camera, shows two men using a master key to enter the vestibule around 6 a.m. on Tuesday, November 21. It takes them only a few more seconds to open the bank of mailboxes. They get to work after casually unzipping a backpack and shaking open plastic bags to carry away the mail.
One of the butterfingered thieves fumbles a stack of mail, which falls onto the floor. While mail theft rings typically look for checks and personal financial information, he scoops all the fallen mail into his backpack—even the Christmas shopping catalogs.
Hours after the thieves walked away with the West Loop building’s mail, Gustavo Balleza walked into Courtroom 100 at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. It was the second time he stood there to face fresh felony charges this month.
Back on November 7, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said he was carrying “numerous” fake IDs, stolen mail, and more than 60 bank cards issued in other people’s names when they teamed up with Chicago cops to arrest him near his home in the 2300 block of North ClarkAccording to officials, heHe also had a flashlight, pliers, two screwdrivers, a lockpick, and sets of keys.
Judge Kelly McCarthy released him the next day.
Balleza, also identified as “Jacob Balleza” in his latest arrest report, didn’t show up for his first court date last week. The judge put out a warrant for him, and Chicago cops teamed up with postal inspectors to arrest him again Monday.
Two days after he skipped court on November 14, Balleza was busy stealing more mail from an apartment building in the 2300 block of North Geneva Terrace, prosecutors yesterday said as they slapped him with a stack of fresh charges.
They also charged him with another mail theft case from October. That occurred in the 500 block of West Belden.
When police arrested him on Monday, Balleza was carrying 12 credit and debit cards issued in other people’s names and two driver’s licenses, officials said. He also had burglary tools in his pockets, according to the police.
Prosecutors charged him with three counts of residential burglary, identity theft, and unlawful possession of credit or debit cards. Judge David Kelly told him he would remain in custody until the judge handling the previously filed case could see him.