Mail Identity Theft: 1/3/11-1/10/11

Police Issue Tips To Prevent Mail Theft
Fox 12 – 1/7/11

(VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON) In the wake of a rash of mail thefts in the Vancouver area, police are warning residents to watch out for mail thieves. They have released some tips to help people protect themselves from mail identity theft. Police advise residents to pick up mail promptly, and when going out of town ask the post office to hold your mail or have a neighbor retrieve your mail for you. If your mail is stolen, report the crime to the police and then run a credit report.

COMMENTS: The best way to prevent mail theft is to purchase a high security locking mailbox – in the long run it is less expensive than a post office box, and it allows to you have the convenience of getting your mail at your house without having to worry about being home exactly when the mail carrier delivers the mail. The fact is that some mail thieves are so brazen they follow the mailman, so you really do need to use a locked mailbox. Best option is one like the Mail Boss that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver. If you suspect your mail has been stolen there are several things you MUST do immediately:

2 women arrested after mail stolen in central Springs
The Gazette – 1/7/11

CandraMackDeniseRomero(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO) Colorado Springs residents alerted police to mail thieves prowling mailboxes, resulting in the arrest of two women. Officers believe the women stole mail from residential mailboxes in Colorado Springs and other areas of El Paso County.

One of the women was in possession of crack cocaine, and both had previous arrests. They were charged on suspicion of identity theft and possession of narcotics, and are being held in El Paso County jail while police investigate the breadth of the suspected mail thefts.

COMMENTS: Mail theft is common in the Springs, and residents should take the necessary precautions. To protect yourself, use a high security locking mailbox to keep thieves from stealing your mail. Make sure to get one made of high quality materials such as heavy gauge steel, and ensure that it can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver. A good option is the Mail Boss, available at your local Ace Hardware or True Value.

Mail theft investigation leads to drug arrests
The Union – 1/7/11

(LAKE OF THE PINES, CALIFORNIA) An month-long investigation into mail theft and counterfeit checks has resulted in the arrest of two people on drug charges in Lake of the Pines; a third suspect is wanted for questioning.Nevada County Sheriff’s Department alleges the suspects have stolen bank account numbers through mail theft, and then use the information to counterfeit checks. The scheme has netted over $10,000. A search warrant served on the suspects resulted in the discovery of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. The investigation is ongoing.

COMMENTS: Mail theft and methamphetamine abuse go hand in hand. MSNBC did an expose on the meth connection to identity theft (read it here) and it goes into the effects of the drugs on the user, and how they are ideal for tedious crimes such as mail theft and counterfeiting. Methamphetamine abuse is on the rise, which is undoubtedly linked to the fact that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the country. To protect yourself from ID theft, safeguard your personal information. This includes the use of a high quality locked mailbox like the Mail Boss. Also, always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in your curbside mailbox) to thwart dumpster divers.

Victims of Mail Fraud “Surpised” Checks Were Even Cashed
FOX 17 WSBT – 1/7/11

(KENT COUNTY, MICHIGAN) In Kent County, a couple was caught stealing rural mailboxes and cashing the checks they found inside. They targeted outgoing mail left in mailboxes, stealing checks and rewriting the payee to themselves. Investigators say over a three week period, the couple cashed more than $8,000 in checks written to others. If convicted, the suspects face up to 30 years in prison and a one million dollar fine.

COMMENTS: It is never a good idea to leave checks in an unsecured mailbox. The red flag indicates to thieves that there is sensitive mail just waiting to be stolen. It is easy for criminals to use chemicals to wash the pen off the check, especially unless a gel pen such as the Uni-Ball 207 was used.To protect yourself from check fraud and mail-identity theft, follow these steps: (1) Use a high security residential locking mailbox that can’t be fished or pried to secure incoming mail, or get a post office box; (2) never send checks or sensitive mail from your curbside mailbox; bring bill payments directly to the post office or use online bill pay, which is more secure; and (3) always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in your curbside mailbox) before discarding them to keep thieves from stealing information for identity theft from the trash.

Suspected mail thieves targeted Christmas gifts on local porches: Stolen presents found under Vancouver suspects’ tree
The Columbian – 1/6/11

(VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON) Three suspects spent the month of December raiding community mailboxes and stealing packages in and around Vancouver Washington. Now, they are facing charges of mail theft in federal court. The suspects admit they were looking for cash and checks in mail and package thefts they dubbed their “Christmas shopping”; they also nabbed gift cards, packages from Nordstrom and Powell’s Books, and several new toys, which investigators found wrapped under their Christmas tree.  US Postal Inspectors have identified at least nine victims in Camas and East Vancouver, and are in the process of trying to return stolen goods to their rightful owners. In the wake of the thefts, the Vancouver Police Department has issued a press release, urging residents who do not have a locking mailbox to pick up mail regularly or obtain a post office box.

COMMENTS: Mail theft generally increases during the holidays, and there are more opportunities for thieves to steal cash, checks and gift cards. However, thieves target your mailbox throughout the year, where they can find all sorts of sensitive information for identity theft. Bank statements, credit card offers, utility bills and more can all be used to steal your identity. To protect yourself, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss that cannot be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver like competitor’s “locking” mailboxes. In Vancouver, you can find the Mail Boss at your local Ace Hardware, True Value or Fred Meyer.

Mail thieves put a damper on 
local families’ holiday celebrations
Dayton Daily News – 1/6/11

(MIAMI VALLEY, FLORIDA) Families in Miami Valley were targeted by mail thieves over the holidays, which put a damper on their celebrations. In Huber Heights, one woman had two money orders worth $350 stolen from her mailbox. In Dayton, at least two people reported their mail and or packages stolen. Authorities caution that during the holidays, thieves target unsecured mailboxes searching for gifts, cards stuffed with cash, and other valuables, and more mail during the holidays means more opportunities for theft. USPS inspectors state that mail theft is often a crime of opportunity, and residents should never put their red flags up.

COMMENTS: It is good advice not to put the flag up when sending outgoing mail; in fact, it is best not to send mail from an unsecured mailbox at all. However, in this case that would have made no difference to the victims, as the thieves targeted their incoming mail. To protect your incoming mail, authorities often recommend retrieving your mail promptly, but most of us cannot wait eagerly by the mailbox for the postal carrier to deliver our mail. As such, the best defense against mail theft is a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver. To find your local Mail Boss dealer use our Store Locator.

Mail Thief Continues Tormenting Woman: DeKalb County Woman Captures New Surveillance Video
CBS Atlanta – 1/5/11

(ATLANTA, GEORGIA) Since November, Ana Lawless has been repeatedly victimized by a mail thief. When she realized her mail was being stolen she purchased a locking mailbox and a surveillance camera to capture the crook in action. This didn’t stop the man, who was able to reach into the locking mailbox and steal her mail. While the thefts abated during the holidays, now he is back and police have been unable to catch him. Most recently, on December 29 surveillance video shows the man reaching into her “locking” mailbox and stealing her mail. She has had money stolen and her identity compromised by this relentless thief, who continues to target her mailbox.

COMMENTS: Most locking mailboxes – including the one purchased by Ms. Lawless – are not secure. Thieves can easily fish mail out of these purportedly “secure” mailboxes by hand, or pry them open in just seconds with a screwdriver. For more information on inferior locking mailboxes, click here. To protect yourself from persistent mail thieves, you need more than just a surveillance system. You need real protection, like the Mail Boss locking security mailbox.

Creek Police Beat
Walnut Creek Patch – 1/5/11

(WALNUT CREEK, CALIFORNIA) “Grinch Mail Thief: A call came in from the Lakewood Circle neighborhood about opened mail strewn all over the street. The mail was returned to the resident. Meanwhile, at El Camino Corto and La Mesa Lane, more holiday mail was opened and thrown into the street.”

COMMENTS: To stop mail theft, use the Mail Boss high security locking mailbox. In Walnut Creek, you can find Mail Boss locking mailboxes at Walnut Creek Ace Hardware.

Weston Police Log: Dec. 20 through Dec. 30: Mailbox thefts and disorderly conduct
Weston Patch – 1/5/11

(WESTON, CONNECTICUT) Numerous residents in Weston reported mail items stolen from their mailboxes or otherwise tampered with. On Lyons Plain Road, victims had outgoing mail as well as cash left for the mailman stolen. Gifts for the mailman were also stolen on Georgetown Road and Weddington Lane.

COMMENTS: Thieves routinely target mailboxes to steal cash, checks, and other sensitive information. To protect yourself, (1) use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to secure incoming mail; (2) never send cash or checks from an unsecured mailbox – give cash directly to the postal carrier and bring bill payments directly to the post office or use online bill pay which is more secure; and (3) always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in the mailbox) before discarding them.

Married Couple Accused of Stealing Checks from Leelanau County Mailbox
9 & 10 News – 1/4/11

(GREILICKVILLE, MICHIGAN) In Leelanau County Michigan, residents have learned the hard way not to send checks from their unsecured mailbox. A married couple – Harold and Peggy Oliver – stole checks out of mailboxes in Greilickville and were able to wash them and cash them fraudulently, netting over $2,000. The couple were already the center of a federal investigation of mail theft in Kent County. Authorities warn residents that while sending checks in the mail may be convenient, the red flag is an indicator to thieves that should be avoided; the best way to avoid becoming a victim is to bring checks to the post office.

COMMENTS: To prevent theft of outgoing mail and check fraud, never send sensitive mail or checks from an unsecured mailbox. Bring checks or bill payments directly to the post office, or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. It is just as if not more important though to secure incoming mail, where thieves can find a plethora of information for mail-identity theft. Keep your bank statements, credit card offers, medical bills and more from would-be identity thieves with a high security locking mailbox that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver. With the Mail Boss, you use your unique key to access your incoming mail, which remains safe behind a locked door featuring a patented anti-pry locking mechanism.

2 held in theft from storm-ravaged homes
The Press-Enterprise – 1/4/11

(HIGHLAND, CALIFORNIA) Police arrested a 35-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy after a search of their car revealed they had stolen mail from Highland residents. The woman was booked on suspicion of receiving stolen property, and the boy was cited and released to a parent. A Rancho Cucamonga sheriff’s deputy noticed a suspicious vehicle while guarding homes that had been evacuated due to mudslides on Autumn Chase Drive. When the deputy stopped the vehicle, he determined the woman had outstanding warrants, and a search of the car turned up burglary tools and the stolen mail.

COMMENTS: For stealing mail, burglary tools are relatively unsophisticated. A simple household screwdriver will suffice to violate most locking mailboxes on the market. A good quality locking mailbox must be able to resist prying attempts with a screwdriver. The Mail Boss features a patented anti-pry latch locking mechanism to prevent leveraged entry, and keeps mail safe from would-be identity thieves.

Mail theft occurs along Holke Road
The Examiner – 1/3/11

(INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI) Residents in eastern Independence Missouri have been victimized by mail thieves who rifled through mail from unlocked mailboxes along Holke Road. The crimes were discovered when a resident noticed mail including Christmas cards and bills scattered along the roadside. Police believe the mail tampering occurred late on December 27.

COMMENTS: It is lucky that someone noticed the mail strewn along the road, because otherwise victims may never have known their mail was stolen. Most victims of mail theft do not realize when their mail goes missing until it’s too late. Now, residents on Holke Road can take the necessary precautions to safeguard their identities. (Read what to do if your mail is stolen here).

Leave a Comment