The following are a round up of mail-identity theft reports, stolen mail police blotters, and mail theft advisories from across the nation, Dec. 19-Dec. 23, 2011.
Trumansburg, NEW YORK: A mail thief is pilfering mailboxes in Trumansburg. Police have found discarded mail in the woods, and now residents are concerned about mail-identity theft.
- WENY TV (12.22.11) – Mail Thief in Trumansburg
COMMENTS: Mail theft is one of the easiest and most common ways thieves obtain your sensitive information for identity theft. To protect yourself, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to deter mail thieves from stealing your personal information from your mailbox.
Madison, WISCONSIN: Madison residents have had their mail tampered with, after two youngsters went through mailboxes, possibly stealing mail.
- KOMO 4 (12.22.11) – Kids Tamper with Madison Mailboxes
COMMENTS: Most likely they were looking for gift cards and such in the mail. Most people still do not use locking mailboxes, in spite of the prevalence of mail identity theft. Victims of mail theft often do not realize their mail has been stolen unless the thieves are careless (as in this case) leaving mail strewn on the streets. Mail can be used for ID theft, and the majority of ID theft victims don’t know how their info was compromised. Use a high security locking mailbox to protect against mail theft.
Tukwila, WASHINGTON: A rash of mail thefts in Tukwila has police warning residents to be on the look out. Not only are thieves stealing from curbside mailboxes, they are also prying open “locked” mailboxes to steal mail. Police urge residents to get a quality locking mailbox to prevent mail theft.
- KOMO 4 (12.22.11) – Police: Thieves not deterred by locking mailboxes
COMMENTS: Most locking mailboxes are made of poor quality materials (thin gauge metal or even plastic) and can be easily violated by would-be mail thieves. Many can be fished by hand and almost all can be popped open with a screwdriver in just a few seconds. I know this because we have performed all this during R&D for development of the Mail Boss in Redmond, WA.
Mail Boss is made of 12- and 14-gauge steel and features a patented anti-pry latch locking mechanism to deter leveraged entry. On our website you can find all sorts of videos showing the security deficiencies of our competitor’s locking mailboxes (available in the big box hardware stores). If you are going to spend money on a locking mailbox (and you should, given the prevalence of mail-identity theft) you should get one that takes longer than just a few seconds to break into!
Tacoma, WASHINGTON: A blue USPS box outside the Proctor post office was broken into by vandals who may have stolen mail. Authorities advise that mail theft rises during the holidays with thieves looking for extra opportunities to steal gifts in the mail.
- KOMO (12.19.11) – Vandals break into Proctor mailbox
- The News Tribue (12.22.11) – Vandals break into Tacoma mailbox, scatter its contents
COMMENTS: Many allegedly “secure” mailboxes actually feature low quality locking mechanisms, and can be easily violated by wanna-be identity thieves. They target mailboxes which host a wealth of sensitive personal information that can be used to steal your identity. Secure your residential mailbox – use a high security locked mailbox that cannot be easily pried open or fished by hand. Never send sensitive mail from an unsecured mailbox. Bring them DIRECTLY to the post office or use online bill pay.
Ronkonkoma, NEW YORK: Police have made arrests have made arrests after mail was stolen from mailboxes on Long Island, from Ronkonkoma to Lindenhurst. Home surveillance footage led to the arrest of two men, and a traffic stop led to the arrest of two women, allegedly responsible for recent mail thefts. Officers found over 100 pieces of stolen mail including checks at the time of the arrest.
- Smithtown Radio (12.22.11) – Mail Stolen from Island Homes
COMMENTS: Thieves target residential mailboxes to find sensitive information for identity theft, as well as checks and gift cards for quick cash for drugs, etc. Protect yourself with a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to secure incoming mail, and never send checks or bill payments from an unsecured mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure.
Fairbanks, ALASKA: A contract delivery driver discovered hundreds of pieces of mail that had been stolen from residential mailboxes and spread across a large area from Farmers Loop to Chena Hot Springs. In total, there were over 30 pounds of stolen mail. While most of the mail was unopened, Christmas cards and financial documents had all been torn open.
- Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (12.22.11) – Mail Theft
COMMENTS: Mail theft has been an ongoing problem in the Fairbanks area! Thieves there know they can find sensitive information for ID theft (and at this time of year, cash, checks and gift cards) in your mailbox. To protect yourself, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss, available in Fairbanks at Spenards or Fred Meyer.
Medford, OREGON: A woman was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing mail and checks from residential mailboxes in Medford, Oregon. She used stolen mail to assume the identity of several victims in summer 2010.
- Mail Tribune (12.23.11) – ID thief gets five years in federal pen
- Mail Tribune (12.22.11) – Medford woman gets five years for identity theft
COMMENTS: It’s not surprising that this woman also has a drug rap. Typically meth addicts steal mail to fund their addiction, using sensitive information from the mail for fraud and identity theft. Mail theft is on the rise and isn’t going away any time soon. To protect yourself, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss, available in Medford at Fred Meyer or your local Ace Hardware.
Maple Leaf (Seattle), WASHINGTON: Maple Leaf residents are reporting a rash of mail thefts and package thefts in the past several days. Several homeowners have interrupted would-be mail thefts in progress with vigilance, and the community is urging vigilance to thwart mail-identity thieves.
- Maple Leaf Life (12.21.11) – More reports of stolen mail – are thieves really following the delivery truck?
COMMENTS: With the prevalence of mail theft in Shoreline, Lake City, Maple Leaf, and really all over Seattle, a locking mailbox is really important. Maple Leaf Ace Hardware was one of the first Ace Hardware’s to carry the Mail Boss locking mailbox so we always try to support them – they’re a really great hardware store! Remember also never to send checks/bill payments from your mailbox as thieves will look for those red flags and take your outgoing mail for check fraud.
Oakdale, MINNESOTA: A man from St. Paul was arrested this week in connection with a rash of mail thefts across the Twin Cities. Police found mail from many victims in the suspect’s car at the time of arrests, and believe communities including Oakdale, Woodbury, Maplewood, Lake Elmo, Roseville, Little Canada and St. Paul were all targeted. Police note that most of the mail confiscated included stolen incoming rather than outgoing mail.
- Oakdale Lake Elmo Review (12.21.11) – Suburban mail theft suspect arrested
COMMENTS: Most reports of mail theft involve “outgoing mail” but that is not because that kind of theft is more common. It is simply because it involves check fraud, which is more easily detectable. Theft of incoming mail is one of the most common ways thieves obtain sensitive information for ID theft, but most people don’t even realize when their mail has been stolen. In fact, most victims of ID theft have no idea how their information was compromised. Only in cases like this when the suspect is apprehended with victims’ mail do people realize thieves are stealing incoming mail.
The best defense is a quality secure mailbox that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open like the options available at Home Depot and Lowes. Frattallone’s Ace Hardware and Mills Fleet Farm carry quality secure mailboxes in the Twin Cities. In addition, follow the steps included here – don’t send sensitive mail (checks, bill payments) from an unsecured mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure.
Greene County, NORTH CAROLINA: A man in Snow Hill is worried someone is stealing Christmas mail after he recently found a stack of opened Christmas cards belonging to other people in his mailbox. The Snow Hill Postmaster says this is the first complaint of mail tampering in the past eighteen months.
- WNCT 9 (12.22.11) – Green County deputies investigating possible mail theft
- WITN (12.21.11) – Possible Mail Theft Under Investigation in Greene Co.
COMMENTS: Mail theft is one of the easiest and most common ways thieves steal your information for fraud and identity theft. Most people don’t even realize when their mail has been stolen. It has been a long time problem on the west coast but is now spreading all across the country.
The best defense is a high security locking mailbox to keep thieves from stealing checks, bank account statements and other personal information from your mailbox. At the Ace Hardware in Snow Hill you can order the Mail Boss through the warehouse and install it in just minutes. It’s USPS approved and virtually theft proof. In addition, you shouldn’t send checks or sensitive documents from an unsecured mailbox. And of course, always shred or otherwise destroy sensitive documents (most of which come in the mailbox!) to keep thieves from stealing your ID information from the trash.
POLICE BLOTTERS Nationwide: Residents are reporting theft of incoming and outgoing mail on a regular basis across the nation. Sometimes thefts happen during the day while other times thieves strike at night. A compilation of police blotters are included below.
- Port Washington, WISCONSIN: Port Washington-Saukville Patch (12.23.11) – Police Blotter
- Flathead County, MONTANA: Flathead Beacon (12.23.11) – Police Blotter
- Montclair, NEW JERSEY: Montclair Patch (12.22.11) – Montclair Police Blotter
- Shoreline, WASHINGTON: Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Patch (12.21.11) – Shoreline Police Blotter
COMMENTS: Mail thefts are frequently included in police blotters when there are just a few incidents here are there – not enough for a big story. That said, most victims of mail theft do not even realize when their mail has been stolen, and many more do not know they should report mail theft to the police. Here is a primer on what to do if your mail is stolen.
HOLIDAY MAIL-ID THEFT Nationwide: Authorities are warning residents that mail thefts are on the rise, as opportunistic thieves are looking to steal cash, checks, gift cards and packages from the mail during the holiday season. Take precautions when sending and receiving holiday mail and packages. Use a locking mailbox and send mail with checks or gift cards from a secure mailbox. Never send cash in the mail.
- Richmond, KENTUCKY: Richmond Register (12.23.11) – Crooks, cops take no time off for holidays
- Washington DC, MARYLAND: WTOP (12.22.11) – Mail, package bandits run off with Christmas gifts
- East Dubuque, ILLINOIS: The Journal-Standard (12.22.11) – Mail thefts reported in JD County
- Fremont, MICHIGAN: Market Watch (12.22.11) – ‘Tis the Season to be Wary – Last Minute Holiday Shoppers can be Easy Targets for Identity Theft
- Boston, MASSACHUSETTS: Boston Globe (12.22.11) – Gift deliveries prove ripe for theft
- Virginia Beach, VIRGINIA: Indian Country (12.22.11) – Holiday Identity Theft: It Just Happened to Me
COMMENTS: Mail theft rises over the holiday season as opportunistic thieves are looking for cash, checks and gift cards in the mail, but all year long they can find your sensitive information for identity theft in your mailbox. In fact, mail theft is one of the most common and easiest ways for ID thieves to steal your personal information. To protect yourself, use a locking mailbox to secure incoming mail, and never send sensitive mail from an unsecured mailbox. Take checks and bill payments directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. Remember, never send checks in the mail. Gift cards are same as cash. Unless your sending/receiving both ways from a secure mailbox, better to give online gift cards or find an alternative!