Mail Identity Theft: 2/14/11-2/24/11

Police: Mail stolen over holiday weekend
WHTM 27 – 2/23/11

(EAST PENNSBORO, PENNSYLVANIA) “Two East Pennsboro residents reported their mail stolen around President’s Day while post office services were closed, according to police. The victims had placed their mail into residential mailboxes for pick-up on Monday, Feb. 21, police said. Upon remembering it was a federal holiday, they went back to retrieve their mail but found it gone.

Police said the stolen mail contained personal information. They encourage anyone with mail of a personal or important nature to take it directly to a nearby post office or to an official post office mailbox, rather than using residential mailboxes.”

COMMENTS: Never a good idea to send sensitive documents like bill payments with checks or credit cards from an unsecured mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. Similarly, it is important to use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to keep thieves from stealing your incoming mail for identity theft.

24-Year-Old Counterfeiter Sentenced: Jerry Milliken Sentenced To Nearly 7 Years In Prison
WYFF 4 – 2/22/11

(GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA) “A 24-year-old Greenville man who was the leader of a mail theft and check counterfeiting conspiracy was sentenced Tuesday. Jerry Edward Milliken was sentenced in federal court in Spartanburg, for conspiracy to pass counterfeit business checks. He was sentenced to 81 months in prison and ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors said evidence established that Milliken was the leader of a mail theft and counterfeiting conspiracy in the Upstate of South Carolina that stole hundreds of pieces of mail and cashed dozens of counterfeit checks to obtain funds to purchase methamphetamine. […]”

COMMENTS: Mail-identity theft and methamphetamine use go hand in hand. Drug addicts can trade or sell stolen mail pilfered from mailboxes for drugs, and often work in complex rings to steal identities. Mail theft (along with methamphetamine abuse) is a skyrocketing problems in the United States, and residents need to take precautions to protect themselves. The best defense is a high security locking mailbox to secure incoming mail from criminals.

Sacramento woman enters guilty plea to mail theft
ABC 10 – 2/22/11

(SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA) “A 28-year-old Sacramento woman pleaded guilty to mail theft and bank fraud in federal court Tuesday […]. […] Laura L. Gregory admitted to acting in concert with others to stake out U.S. Postal Service mailboxes to steal customers’ mail. When federal agents searched Gregory’s home on June 29, 2010, they recorded recovering more than 500 pieces of mail addressed to more than 350 different people.

Gregory was also accused of using information gleaned from the stolen mail to fraudulently obtain credit cards and use them to buy goods and service.

Gregory is scheduled to be sentenced May 10. She faces up to 30 years in prison for each of two bank fraud convictions and up to five years for possession of stolen mail. She also could be fined up to $1 million, be ordered to pay restitution to her victims, and given up to three years of probation after incarceration.”

COMMENTS: She could face “as much as” 30 years in prison but I can guarantee that her sentence will be seriously less severe. Most mail-identity thieves do little time in jail or prison even though mail theft is a federal crime. That’s why mail theft is so common: it’s relatively low risk with high dividends, and one of the most common ways criminals obtain your sensitive information for identity theft. To protect yourself use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to secure incoming mail, and never send sensitive documents or bill payments from an unsecured mailbox – instead use online bill pay.

Belton: Three Arrested In ID Theft, Forgery And Narcotics Probe – 2/22/11

beltonTXmailthieves(BELTON, TEXAS)
“The Bell County Organized Crime Unit said Tuesday it has arrested two men and a woman in an investigation that encompassed counterfeiting, mail theft, identity theft, forgery and narcotics in which at least 30 individual victims have been identified.

State and federal charges were pending Tuesday against Stephen Todd Anderson, 36, of Holland, William Carl Malicki, 23, of Belton and Amanda Jean Malicki, 26, of Belton. Agents have recovered counterfeit cash, stolen property, a stolen vehicle and a number of stolen checks and credit cards, the organized crime unit said Tuesday. […]”

COMMENTS:Mail theft is actually one of the most common ways crooks obtain sensitive information for ID theft – it’s a low-risk crime with high payouts. ID theft can be devastating to victims but offenders often get little more than a slap on the wrist.

To protect yourself use a high security locking mailbox like Mail Boss to secure incoming mail from would-be identity thieves, and bring checks or bill payments directly to the post office or use online mail. Also, shred all sensitive documents (most of which come in your mailbox) before discarding them to stop dumpster divers.

Gloucester Police/Fire: Woman reports mail theft from Smith Street box
Gloucester Times – 2/21/11

(GLOUCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS) “Police are investigating allegations that someone stole mail from a Smith Street woman’s mailbox sometime over the weekend.

According to police, the woman put three pieces of mail in her mailbox to be picked up on Sunday. When she realized on Monday morning that it was a holiday, with no U.S. Postal Service pickup or delivery, she noticed that one of the envelopes was missing. The missing envelope contained a check for her cable bill, she said. Police said they have no suspects.”

COMMENTS: Never a good idea to send sensitive documents like bill payments with checks or credit cards from an unsecured mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. Similarly, it is important to use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to keep thieves from stealing your incoming mail for identity theft.

Man shot by officer is suspected of stealing mail
Orange County Register – 2/21/11

anaheim mail thief(ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA)
“A man who was shot and injured by an Anaheim police officer during an encounter in a quiet Anaheim Hills neighborhood was arrested on suspicion of stealing mail, police said Monday.

Travis S. Mock, 27, was arrested Friday on suspicion of theft of U.S. mail and possession of stolen property and was placed on a parole hold, Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn said. […]

Authorities say an on-duty police officer was returning to his neighborhood when he encountered Mock in the cul-de-sac and shot him. Police responding to the scene found several pieces of mail from nearby residents in Mock’s possession, Dunn said.

Police have released few details about the confrontation, noting that it is under investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, as is typical in officer involved shootings.

A neighbor reported hearing the officer saying “you were burglarizing our stuff,” while another resident reported hearing what sounded like a firecracker followed by someone screaming “you shot me, you shot me!” Other residents said they saw a brown paper bag lying in the street, which they say investigators found full of mail.

A man with the same name and birth date as Mock pleaded guilty to felony burglary charges in 2003 and 2010, as well as felony drug possession charges in 2002 and 2004, according to Orange County Superior Court records. […]”

COMMENTS: Mail theft is actually one of the most common ways crooks obtain sensitive information for ID theft – it’s a low-risk ‘white collar’ crime with high dividends and because it’s not a violent crime, offenders often get off with little more than a slap on the wrist. (Obviously, not this guy – he got a shot). While this man should have been punished in a court of law and not by Anaheim police, I imagine that victims who have been devastated by identity theft may feel differently.

Two arrested in thefts from private mailboxes in Oklahoma City
The Oklahoman – 2/21/11

“Jason Wade Sanders, 37, and Tiffany Dawn Tran, 21, were arrested Thursday after police found stolen mail, stolen checks and fake driver’s licenses in their car following a report that they had been stealing from private mailboxes, police reported.”

(OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA) “Police arrested two people who had stolen checks, stolen mail and fake driver’s licenses in their car after someone reported the theft of mail from private mailboxes in west Oklahoma City.

Jason Wade Sanders, 37, of Oklahoma City, was arrested […] and Tiffany Dawn Tran, 21, of Oklahoma City was arrested […], according to a police report released today. Both have bailed out of jail, and neither has been charged.

A caller reported someone in a beat-up red car stealing mail in a neighborhood near NW 16 and N MacArthur Boulevard about 9:45 a.m. Thursday, an officer wrote in the report. Police found two people in a car matching that description and pulled it over.

Investigators found miscellaneous opened mail from multiple addresses, two checkbooks, four fraudulent Oklahoma driver’s licenses with Sanders’ picture on them, filled-out checks and other items inside the car, according to the report. The mail had been placed in the boxes for the post office to pick up, and some of the mail contained checks to pay bills and identifying information such as dates of birth and Social Security numbers. Police spokesman Master Sgt. Gary Knight said mail with checks or identifying information should be dropped off at a post office or public mailbox.

Sanders has a pending felony from a June 2010 case in Canadian County on counts of unlawful possession of stolen copper, conspiracy, unlawful possession of a controlled and dangerous substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, court records show. […]”

COMMENTS: These thieves are often methamphetamine addicts who are trading or selling stolen mail for drugs – the same thieves who steal copper wire and catalytic converters. To protect yourself from the growing crime of mail-identity theft, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss – it can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver, and is necessary for mail-identity theft prevention.

In Oklahoma City, you can find the Mail Boss locking mailbox at Fox Building Supply and Westlake Ace Hardware.

Accused Mail Thief Sent Packing: After Year And Half, Man Arrested For Stealing Mail
CBS Atlanta – 2/18/11

(ATLANTA, GEORGIA) “A neighborhood said they were terrorized by a mail thief and they are relieved to deliver him to jail. […] Friday morning, Ana Lawless received the news. […] The man Lawless said made her life miserable for more than a year and a half was sent packing.

“You have no idea the weight that has been lifted,” said Lawless. Lawless’ mail was stolen and then her identity. She discovered someone was opening credit cards in her name.

She installed a secure mailbox with a tiny slit and surveillance cameras. Lawless was on the guy’s route and the cameras caught him numerous times somehow reaching through the slit and grabbing mail.

[…] Police couldn’t catch him. Lawless resorted to her own crime fighting by putting old bean dip in the mailbox. Her surveillance cameras caught the man reaching in and finding the dip. “He got mad when he put his hand in it and slashed the tires but that’s OK. I am having the last laugh,” said Lawless.

Lawless is having the last laugh because her neighbor, Carolyn Namey, took the accused man down. Namey has motion sensors in her yard that are hooked up to lights and an alarm. Friday morning, they went off. “No doubt it was him, the same guy,” said Namey.

She called police. “They were able to corner him, tackle him and they caught him red handed with a bag of mail from a bunch of surrounding neighborhoods,” said Namey.

Officers arrested Peter Reed. Reed’s been in trouble before for crimes like forgery and theft, according to court records. Reed is now charged with several crimes including financial identity fraud and financial transaction card theft. He’s expected to face more charges, including charges relating to Lawless’ case.

COMMENTS: Lawless in Atlanta was repeatedly victimized by a mail thief even after installing a “secure mailbox with a tiny slit on it” that she bought at Lowe’s, and yet somehow he was able to “reach through the slit and grab the mail.” Now the thief is behind bars, but this should be a lesson that most locking mailboxes can be easily violated.

In fact this “tiny slit” is a hopper-door which allows one to easily reach in to the “secure mailbox” – a security problem with many competitors locking mailboxes including the popular model shown in the video below (available in Lowe’s and Home Depot), as well as the the Parkview by Gibraltar, among others.

Uncovering how questionable those big blue mailboxes are
Star-Telegram – 2/17/11

(FORT WORTH, TEXAS) “The problem of thefts from blue U.S. Postal Service collection boxes apparently hasn’t gotten any better in the past year. Neither the post office nor the Postal Inspection Service, which investigates mail crimes, will release information to the public when crimes occur.

So, once again The Watchdog asked for it under the federal Freedom of Information Act. A year ago, the Fort Worth postal district reported 60 mailbox thefts in 13 months. But in the past 11 months, there have been more than 80 incidents in the district, which includes Amarillo, Lubbock, Abilene and Decatur, too. Most of the thefts are in Fort Worth and Arlington. […]

I asked for a list of all reported incidents of theft, vandalism and tampering involving the blue collection boxes in the last 11 months of 2010. The Postal Inspection Service cautioned me about the data it sent me:

“These reports are the raw, unverified data provided by USPS employees. Some of the entries provided contain duplicate reports of possible thefts or vandalism, as well as unverified dates of possible thefts or vandalism.” (I eliminated the obvious duplicates.)

The data matches anecdotal evidence gleaned from readers in recent months. An Arlington man notified the Star-Telegram in December that mailbox break-ins in his city were “rampant.” A Fort Worth man contacted me in November about thefts at a collection box at the post office near South Hulen Street at 4450 Oak Park Lane (the list includes two incidents there in October).

Why do these problems continue? What can the Postal Service do about it? What should you do? […]

He also offers an excellent idea: Check periodically with your residential carrier about mailbox thefts in your area.

A mailbox security expert tells me that along with thefts from mailboxes at homes, thefts at collection boxes remain a major problem nationwide.

“It’s basically a crime that’s not being prosecuted because there’s too much of it to deal with,” says Michael Johnston, owner of USMailboxes. “The way I see it and experience it, it has increased tremendously in the last few years. It started out as a way for thieves to get drug money. Now the recession has made it worse.”

[…] The blue collection boxes are especially popular, he says, because they contain more mail, especially bill payments containing individual checks. Thieves can use the name, address, account and bank routing numbers on the checks for identity theft. […]”

COMMENTS: The USPS doesn’t want you to know it, but mail theft is a rampant problem. Most often victims don’t even realize their mail has been stolen, meanwhile criminals are stealing from any mail receptacle they can to obtain personal information for identity theft, along with cash, checks, and gift cards.

People need to use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to protect their incoming mail and bring bill payments directly to the post office especially in areas where collection mailboxes are targeted. While it may seem inconvenient, you will be kicking yourself if your identity is compromised. A quicker (and more secure) alternative is online bill pay. Use it to receive statements and make payments! Traditional low-tech identity theft is immensely more common than cyber high-tech ID theft.

Franklin Lakes: Police Blotter, Feb. 17 – 2/17/11

(FRANKLIN LAKES, NEW JERSEY) “Feb. 2 — A Cherokee Lane resident reported that in October, unknown persons had stolen checks from her mail. The checks had since been used in transactions totaling $274. Detective Anthony Pacelli investigated. […]”

COMMENTS: While it is not clear from this report whether the checks were stolen from the incoming or the outgoing mail, there are simple steps you can take to secure your checks (and other sensitive documents) both ways, and prevent mail-identity theft. Use a high quality locked mailbox like Mail Boss to protect incoming mail, and use the post office or online bill pay for outgoing ‘mail’. These easy steps will greatly reduce your likelihood of falling prey to mail-identity theft.

Identity Theft
KOTA 1380 – 2/16/11

(RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA) “Two Rapid City men were arrested in Deadwood on numerous charges of identity theft. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputies and Deadwood Police arrested 31-year-old Jeremy Zwetzig, and 50-year-old Ernest Foos. The men are charged with possession of forged checks, grand theft, and identity theft.

Police found stolen mail and bank account information in their home. Police believe the items were stolen from residents in Lawrence, Meade, and Pennington County. A large scale investigation is currently being worked on by officers in Lawrence, Pennington, and Meade County Sheriff’s Deputies and Rapid City Police Officers.”

COMMENTS: If you ask someone from Rapid City if they have a locking mailbox, a common response might be “What’s a locking mailbox?” The truth is, it’s not often that you hear of mail identity in the Heartland. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening – it’s just not in the news all that often. Reports like these help to get the word out that criminals are targeting your personal information and can often find what they need to steal your identity in your mailbox. As such, a secure locking mailbox is a must-have for identity theft prevention.

Mail fraud on the rise
KVOA 4 – 2/14/11

(TUSCON, ARIZONA) “Each year, according to the U-S Postal Service, during the holidays, mail theft and mail fraud go up. Postal inspectors say thieves know people are sending or receiving money, and gifts. But the most vulnerable victims of mail fraud inspectors say are the elderly. […]

Mail theft has become such a problem that just recently two huge mailboxes were stolen from the northwest side. It happened on December 16th. The mail boxes were replaced, and the thieves left remnants of what was inside a few blocks away.

Postal inspectors offer these tips to keeping your mail safe.

  • Use the letter slots at your post office to mail letters, or give them to a letter carrier.
  • Deposit mail in blue collection boxes before the last pick up time that appears on the schedule posted on each box.
  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery, especially if you’re expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items. If you won’t be home when the items are expected, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail. Don’t leave it in your mailbox overnight.
  • Don’t send cash in the mail.
  • Ask your bank for “secure” checks that can’t be altered.
  • If you will be away from home for more than three days, ask the Post Office to hold your mail until you return. You can initiate a mail hold at the Post Office or online at

COMMENTS: Great advice, except for the most obvious solution to mail theft prevention has been omitted. Get a high security locking mailbox. This precludes the need to promptly remove mail, hold your mail, etc. There are several USPS approved locking security mailboxes available online at and the Mail Boss is also available in your local Ace Hardware.

Nathaniel Johnson, Lakisha Scanes admit to stealing checks from Camden area mail: Husband and wife used hookers and drug addicts to net over $80,000
New Jersey News Room – 2/14/11

(CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY) “A Camden man and his wife recruited hookers, drug addicts and even their babysitter in their snatch and grab mail scheme that netted the theft ring over $80,000 in stolen checks, tax refunds and unemployment checks, the Associated Press reported.

Nathaniel Johnson pleaded guilty last week to theft of government funds after he and his wife, Lakisha Scanes admitted to stealing mail from postal vehicles and mailboxes in and around Camden from November 2009 through April 2010.

The thieving couple cashed stolen checks with the help of drug-addicted underlings they met on the streets of Camden, who used the information they obtained from the pilfered mail to secure phony identification.

Federal investigators used the testimony of other ring members to get Johnson, whose babysitter told investigators she babysat the couple’s son while they went “mail hopping,” The reported.

Johnson and Scanes reportedly cashed more than 100 stolen checks, including almost 70 U.S. Treasury checks for Social Security payments, veterans’ benefits and income-tax returns. […]”

COMMENTS: So many people are careful to shred every little bit of information with so much as their name on it before discarding it, all to stop identity theft. We’ve all been indoctrinated to use a paper shredder to stop all those wry thieves from finding our personal information in the trash! And yet, can we all pause and think for a moment what it is we diligently shred? Mostly, what comes in our mailboxes!

Americans cling to their unlocked mailboxes – relics from another time – and may never realize when their mail goes missing. Criminal evolution has created a society of crooks who know they’re not likely to find your information in the trash, and they go straight to the source: the mailbox. Now is the time for everyone to realize how important it is to secure your mail.

Stop mail identity theft with a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss. Postal carriers can deliver without a key, but it drops safely to the locked storage compartment in a 12- and 14-gauge steel vault, safe from would-be identity thieves until you retrieve your mail with your key. Also, never send checks or other sensitive documents from an unsecured mailbox – bring bill payments directly to the post office, or use online bill pay, which is more secure.


  1. Monica on March 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    It’s a crazy world, and it seems to me there are more and more disenchanted – bereft – derelict – criminal – sociopathic (one extreme to another)members of our society. Too many people are not particularly interested in upholding standards of law and order. On the one hand we have these dead beat meth addicts running around stealing the mail and our identities and on the other hand we have corruption on wall street and in the government. I think I’ll just take a deep breath… and retrieve my mail from a MAIL BOSS.

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