Thalia Patrick / Photo, Westport Police Department

WESTPORT — In the latest local incident of “check washing,” a New York woman is accused of stealing a $28,000 check from a U.S. Postal Service mailbox, changing the payee’s name to her own and depositing the check in her bank account.

Thalia Patrick, 29, of Bronx, N.Y., was charged June 2 with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny.

Check washing, as described in a warning issued earlier this year by Westport police, occurs when details on an already-written check — usually the amount and payment recipient — are erased and replaced with fraudulent information.

Police said such incidents most commonly occur when “checks that have been put in mailboxes and are awaiting pickup by a postal employee are stolen.” The check details then are erased and new information entered, after which it is either cashed or deposited in a bank account controlled by the thief.

Patrick’s arrest follows a police investigation launched after a resident filed a complaint Jan. 14.

The man told police he put a letter with a check for more than $28,000 in the Postal Service mailbox on Sylvan Road South at Post Road West. The check apparently was stolen, according to the report, and the payee name changed to “Thalia Patrick” and deposited into her bank account.

The man told police he did not write the check to “Thalia Patrick,” and did not know anyone by that name.

The detective investigating the case, after securing a search warrant, was able to determine the bank account where the check was deposited did belong to Patrick, police said. 

After gathering additional evidence linking Patrick to the theft, a warrant for her arrest was issued.

She turned herself in June 2 at Police Department headquarters and was released after posting $75,000 bond. She was scheduled to be arraigned June 9 on the charges at state Superior Court in Stamford.