CHICAGO - A Chicago man has been arrested for the second time in two weeks for allegedly stealing mail and possessing stolen identifications in Lincoln Park.
Gustavo Balleza, 36, was arrested Monday in the 2300 block of North Clark Street. Pending charges against him include a potential of 13 felony counts of burglary.
At the time of the arrest, Balleza was allegedly in possession of two stolen identifications, five burglary tools and 10 bank cards in the name of his victims.
Balleza was previously arrested by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Chicago Police Department on Nov. 7 after being identified as the suspect who was allegedly responsible for over 15 burglaries and mail thefts in Lincoln Park over the past month. Postal inspectors took him into custody after he was allegedly observed breaking into postal mailboxes and stealing mail.
At the time of the first arrest, he allegedly possessed numerous fake identifications, legitimate identifications not belonging to Balleza, stolen mail and about 65 bank cards in the name of his victims.
At least three of Balleza's most recent burglaries occurred after his arrest on Nov. 7 while he was on pretrial release. He also had a warrant for failure to appear in court.
"The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is dedicated to defending the nation’s mail system from criminal activity, preserving the integrity of the U.S. Mail, and protecting United States Postal Service employees. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service values our law enforcement partners for supporting our mission to protect the integrity of the U.S. Mail," said Ruth M. Mendonça, Inspector in Charge of the Chicago Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The arrest comes as postal inspectors announced they are expanding their crackdown on mail theft. New actions include installing 12,000 high-security blue boxes across the area, replacing nearly 50,000 electronic locks.
Officials have also increased the reward for information leading to the arrest of suspects this summer. In the murder of a postal worker, it's $250,000. An assault or robbery is $150,000.
Any person who has a tip on any postal crime is asked to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's 24/7 hotline at (877) 876-2455.