A rash of mail-related thefts has local authorities collaborating with the local office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

For much of the spring and early summer, residents of Worthington and some nearby municipalities have been reporting instances of stolen mail and forged checks, according to the Worthington Division of Police.

Sgt. James Moran said Worthington officials were investigating a series of fraudulent checks when they reported an incident to the U.S. Postal Service.

They soon realized an investigation already was underway.

Moran said officers have seen about 20 incidents they believe could be connected in a case he called "very unusual," with a volume of crimes he hasn't seen in his 30 years in law enforcement.

He said after the numbers began stacking up, the division reached out to USPS to collaborate.

"It doesn't mean we can't handle it," he said, "but we always recommend that people report it to (USPS) in case they have an ongoing investigation."

In some Worthington cases, mail simply has gone missing from mailboxes. In others, businesses find that payroll checks have been stolen and forged.

Some cases come in groups – five were reported from June 16 to 23 – whereas others are sporadic.

Kathy Woliung, an inspector and spokeswoman for the local U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said she could not discuss how investigations would be handled or divulge anything that her office does.

She said the office uses "investigative techniques and stuff," and it investigates a case "if it warrants," but she would not explain how those investigations are conducted or how the office works with local police.

Woliung said charges would be announced "if we determine there is a crime or something that can be presented for prosecution."

Moran said he has spoken to police departments in other communities, including Bexley and Upper Arlington, that have seen similar incidents, and he isn't surprised that the issue reaches beyond Worthington.

"They're hitting high-end communities because they know there are going to be checks in the mailboxes," he said.