Mail Identity Theft: 8/19/11-9/10/11

Sept. 10 Police Blotter
The Hermiston Herald – 9/10/11

(HERMISTON, OREGON) “[…] A West Donna Avenue woman reported mail stolen from her mail box, including Netflix movies. […]”

COMMENTS: She’s lucky if only Netflix movies were stolen! But of course if you want to guarantee the safe delivery of those red DVD mailers (along with the peace of mind of protecting yourself from identity theft) use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss.

Police Blotter Sept. 6-8: Mail Theft
Belmont Patch – 9/9/11

(BELMONT, CALIFORNIA) “[…] 9:12 a.m.-6:07 p.m. Theft – Over the course several hours, mail was stolen from multiple residential mailboxes on Plateau Dr., Belmont Canyon Rd., Lower Lock Ave., Upper Lock Ave., Reposo Way, Forest Ave., and Hillcrest Dr. […]”

COMMENTS: To protect yourself from the fast growing crime of mail theft, use a high security locking mailbox. In Belmont you can find the Mail Boss at Belmont Hardware.

Dunwoody Police Blotter Aug. 28 – Sept. 3: Burglaries, Mail Theft
Dunwoody Patch – 9/9/11

(DUNWOODY, GEORGIA) “[…] A check worth $875 was reported from a mailbox on the 1000 block of Oakpointe Place on the night of Aug. 31.

[…] Mail was reported stolen at the Broadstone at Dunwoody, 2311 Dunwoody Crossing, on the afternoon of Sept. 2.

[…] A larceny from mail was reported on the afternoon of Aug. 29 at the 5200 block of Dunwoody Gables Drive. A Georgia license was reported stolen. […]”

COMMENTS: Atlanta has had countless reports of mail theft in the last year. It is certainly on the rise! Protect yourself by using caution when sending and receiving mail. Namely, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to protect incoming mail, and never sending sensitive outgoing mail from an unsecured mailbox. Instead, bring bill payments directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure.

The Lufkin Daily News – 9/9/11

(LUFKIN, TEXAS) “[…] A check was reported stolen out of a mail slot Wednesday in the 1000 block of East Denman Avenue.

A book of checks and frozen food was reported stolen Tuesday in the 4500 block of Ellen Trout Drive. […]”

COMMENTS: Checks are often targeted as they have valuable bank account information that would-be identity thieves use to create fraudulent checks. This is why you should never send checks from an unsecured mailbox, and be sure to receive new boxes of checks (along with other sensitive information) in a secure locking mailbox.

Friendswood Police Blotter
The Friendswood Journal – 9/9/11

(FRIENDSWOOD, TEXAS) “[…] Theft: Aug. 29 (3:22 p.m.) A resident in the 17000 block of Bougainvilla reported his mail had been opened and items from the opened mail were missing. Several foreign coins were taken from one of the envelopes. […]”

COMMENTS: Protect against mail-identity theft with the Mail Boss, available in Friendswood when you ask for it by name at Magnuson Ace Hardware.

Police blotter- Sept. 11
Brainerd Dispatch – 9/9/11

(BRAINERD, MINNESOTA) “[…] THEFT — A report at 12:56 p.m. Thursday of theft of medication from the mailbox in Deerwood.

A report at 1:20 a.m. Thursday of possible mail theft and damage to property in Deerwood. […]”

COMMENTS: If you live in the area, you can ask for the Mail Boss (vendor 38261) by name at your local Brainerd Ace Hardware.

Belmont Police Nab Suspected Mail Thief: More than two dozen victims have been affected by the mail thefts throughout Belmont.
Belmont Patch – 9/7/11

(BELMONT, CALIFORNIA) “A 30-year old Oakland man was arrested by Belmont police on Tuesday under suspicion of stealing mail from a dozen residential mailboxes in several Belmont neighborhoods.

At approximately 9:10 a.m. Tuesday, a resident in the 2800 block of Monte Cresta Dr. reported just interrupting a suspect who was taking mail from the resident’s mailbox. The suspect reportedly then fled an SUV-type vehicle.

While officers searched for the suspect, they received another report of mail theft in the 3300 block of Plateau Dr., and minutes later, another report that a suspect driving a silver van-type vehicle had just taken mail from their mailbox in the 3300 block of Lower Lock Ave.

[…] During the traffic stop, officers allegedly located mail from multiple Belmont addresses inside the vehicle. […]

While the case is still under investigation, police found mail in the Holder’s car from mailboxes on Monte Cresta Dr., Plateau Dr., Lower Lock Ave., Belmont Canyon Rd., Hillcrest Dr., Upper Lock Ave., and Reposo Way. They believe the total number of victims could be as high as 25.

About half the mail recovered in Holder’s vehicle was not post-marked, and had been put out by residents for collection. […]

Police used this opportunity to remind residents to only use official US Postal Service Mailboxes, or go to the Post Office to send mail. They also suggest getting a locking mailbox to prevent theft.”

COMMENTS: Stealing mail is one of the most common ways criminals obtain your information for ID theft. A high quality locking mailbox is essential to protect yourself from mail-identity theft if you receive mail in a residential mailbox. Remember, many “locking” mailboxes can be easily violated so be sure to use one that cannot be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver!

Police Blotter
Mercer Island Reporter – 9/7/11

(MERCER ISLAND, WASHINGTON) “[…] Aug. 22: Malicious mischief: A locked mailbox in the 4000 block of 91st Avenue S.E. was damaged by an unknown object. The owner did not know if mail was taken. […]”

COMMENTS: This incident is really mislabeled as “malicious mischief” as there is really no other reason someone would “damage” a locking mailbox except to steal personal information. Many consumers may not realize that most locking mailboxes feature poor construction and feature low security locking mechanisms that offer only a moment’s deterrence to thieves. If your locking mailbox is violated, notify the credit bureaus immediately and start looking for a better locking mailbox!

Anonymous tip leads to arrests
Merced Sun-Star – 9/7/11

(MERCED, CALIFORNIA) “An anonymous tip led Merced police officers to arrest two suspects this week, each accused of possession of stolen property. […]

When he was arrested, Fryburger had mail that belonged to several various residents throughout Merced City, police said.

Richardson contacted the U.S. Postal Inspector, who sent an agent to assist with the investigation of mail tampering and mail theft, police said. Fryburger was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of violating his parole, theft of a motorcycle, possession of stolen property and resisting arrest, police said. He could face additional federal charges for mail tampering and mail theft once the postal inspector’s investigation is complete. […]”

COMMENTS: These are meth heads stealing mail for identity theft. Identity theft is a big problem – the fastest growing crime in the country for many years running. Law enforcement catches a few of the culprits here and there, but they are back on the streets soon enough, and many more who never get caught.

This problem isn’t going away any time soon, so citizens need to take precautions to protect themselves. Specifically, use a locking mailbox like Mail Boss to secure sensitive documents, and do not send checks or bill payments from an unlocked mailbox. Of course, shred your mail before throwing it away too. Just remember it’s easier to steal your information from a mailbox than the trash, so shredding is only part of the solution!

Suspected mail thieves arrested after chase
Morgan Hill Times – 9/5/11

(MORGAN HILL, CALIFORNIA) “Two suspected thieves were caught trying to steal mail by an off-duty police officer who chased them down, police said.

[…] The officer saw the passenger of the vehicle removing mail from several mail boxes, according to Sgt. Shane Palsgrove. As the officer approached the suspect, the passenger entered the vehicle with the stolen mail. The vehicle fled the scene.

[…] Responding on-duty officers joined the pursuit and caught up with the suspects and made a stop at Huston Court, off Saddlebrook Drive, police said. As the fleeing Mustang stopped, the passenger exited the vehicle and ran through the neighborhood on foot, Palsgrove said. As he ran, he dropped some of the mail he had stolen. The mail was later recovered. […]”

COMMENTS: It’s not just outgoing checks they’re looking for! All that incoming mail contains a wealth of sensitive information. for identity theft. If not a PO Box, then a good, secure locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to keep credit card applications, courtesy checks, bank statements, etc. out of the hands of would-be identity thieves.

Mail Thief in Morgan Hill
KION 46 – 9/3/11

(MORGAN HILL, CALIFORNIA) “On August 2nd, an off duty Morgan Hill officer saw the passenger of a car get out and steal mail from several mailboxes along the north side of East Dunne Ave at Jackson Oaks Dr.

When the officer approached, the suspects took off. The car was later stopped by other officers and the suspects jumped out of the car and started running. Felipe Arrizon was caught but the other suspect got away with the mail. […]”

COMMENTS: Mail theft is one of the most common ways thieves obtain your sensitive information for identity theft. To protect yourself, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss (find one at your local Ace Hardware) to secure incoming mail – credit card statements, courtesy checks, etc. Also, never send secure mail from an unsecured mailboxes. Checks, bill payments etc. should go to a blue USPS drop box, the post office, or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. Last but not least, shred all sensitive documents (most of which come in the mail!) before discarding them to thwart dumpster divers.

9 arrested in Visalia fraud case: Visalia police call counterfeit check ring ‘substantial
Visalia Times-Delta – 9/2/11

(VISALIA, CALIFORNIA) “Visalia police arrested nine people in connection with a counterfeiting and check-cashing ring that victimized dozens of local businesses from car dealerships and medical clinics to numerous individuals.

The arrests were made over July and August as detectives uncovered more people involved in the ring, and the investigation continues.

“We consider this a substantial counterfeiting and check-cashing ring,” Sgt. Candido Alvarez of the Property Crimes Unit said Friday.

The crimes committed also include mail theft and vehicle burglaries. The information to create the fraudulent checks came from items stolen from personal vehicles, personal mail boxes and even public mail boxes.

[…] “These folks have found ways to manipulate and retrieve mail from these boxes,” Alvarez said. […] All the suspects are from Visalia.

[…] From there, detectives learned that the information the suspects obtained to create the fraudulent checks was from the theft of mail.

“Through the course of the investigation we found a lot of other people involved in this ring,” Alvarez said. “We are still trying to find how many cases are tied to these people.”

Alvarez said they have found checks tied to the ring as far back as 2010. “Now it’s all kind of coming together,” he said. He said he thinks more arrests could be made.

He said the process of discovery can be slow. Consumers often won’t know that their check has been stolen. It isn’t until they learn that a check they mailed never reached its destination that they realize there’s a problem.

“Then [we’ll have] another victim and we start adding them up and noticing that we’ve had a lot of mail [taken] from a particular box on a particular day,” he said. He added that these types of thefts run in cycles and are often from communal boxes such as are found in newer neighborhoods. […]”

COMMENTS: These fraud rings are highly sophisticated, according to an expose by msNBC on mail-identity theft. Usually the “grabbers” (or the ones stealing the mail) are meth heads simply looking for any sensitive information wherever they can find it – it’s easy for them to find a whole lot of goodies in your mailbox, though sometimes they might steal from your car or the dump too. Bank statements, pre-approved credit card offers, financial documents, courtesy checks and more – that’s what they’re going for. Then, they can take this information and sell it or trade it for drugs to the “higher ups” who compile the information for identity theft and fraud. ID theft is the fastest growing crime in the country and is not going away any time soon, so residents need to take precautions to protect themselves.

Use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to secure incoming mail, and never send checks, bill payments or other sensitive documents from an unsecured mailbox. As always, shred sensitive documents before discarding them, but remember most of these probably come in your mailbox, and you can’t shred what gets stolen from you first!

Police report
Waukesha Patch – 9/1/11

(WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN) “[…] The theft of mail from a mailbox was reported at 12:41 p.m. Tuesday in the 100 block of Carroll Street. […]”

COMMENTS: To prevent mail theft, use the Mail Boss locking security mailbox to secure incoming mail, and never send sensitive mail from an unsecured curbside mailbox. In Waukesha, ask for the Mail Boss by name at Tomchek Ace Hardware or Olsons Ace Hardware.

Metairie woman pleads guilty to FEMA fraud
Houston Chronicle – 8/31/11

(NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA) “A 39-year-old Metairie woman has pleaded guilty to federal charges of theft of government funds, possession of stolen mail and identity theft.

[…] According to court documents, Gee received disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricane Katrina but failed to report having received insurance funds to cover the same damage. Gee also provided FEMA with false statements that resulted in her fraudulently receiving $53,097.

Gee also pleaded guilty to possession of stolen mail and identity theft of a victim’s social security number and financial and credit information. […]”

COMMENTS: Not only did this woman steal from FEMA, she also stole her neighbor’s FEMA checks. What a rotten apple! This does go to show you, though, that your mail is never safe from criminal types unless you lock it up in a security mailbox. And, given the prevalence of mail-identity theft, everyone should have a secure locking mailbox!

Mailbox thieves arrested
Fox Charlotte – 8/31/11

(STATESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA) “Iredell County Sheriff officers have arrested two Statesville residents after a three month investigation, that originated with several complaints from residents that mail was taken from their mailboxes during the night time hours.

During the investigation officers spoke with victims and witnesses in the area of Bell Farm Rd. and were able to get a description of a vehicle that was observed pulling up to mailboxes and taking mail. […]

Suspects Wesley Eugene Goodin age 22, of Midway Rd. Statesville, and Michelle Matheson Southard 39, of Riverfield Dr. Statesville, were arrested for the mailbox thefts. Goodin drives a dark colored Toyota Celicia with a loud muffler, and both confessed to checking the mailboxes on Shiloh Rd. and the Bell Farm Rd. area. […]”

COMMENTS: Most people who are stealing from mailboxes are looking for quick cash, checks, or sensitive information for identity theft. The lucky victims are out a few dollars in a birthday card, or maybe a gift card. The less fortunate may have to deal with check fraud. The unlucky ones will spend many months, even years, to clear their good name. The solution is easy – use a high security locking mailbox to protect your incoming mail, which contains a wealth of sensitive information. In addition, never send checks or bill payments from a curbside mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. And of course, always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in your mailbox!) before discarding them to thwart dumpster divers too.

Deputies arrest pair in mail thefts
Charlotte Observer – 8/31/11

iredell county mail thieves(STATESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA) “Authorities have arrested a Statesville pair and charged them with multiple counts of theft after several Iredell County residents complained that their mail was being stolen.

The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office said it received several complaints from people living near Shiloh and Bell Farm roads in Statesville. The residents told authorities mail had been stolen from their mailboxes at night.

Witnesses told investigators they saw a dark-colored vehicle with a loud muffler pull up to mailboxes and take the mail. A day after a picture of the suspect’s vehicle was posted on the Sheriff’s Office’s website, a tipster provided information to police about the case.

Investigators said they later identified Wesley Eugene Goodin, 22, and Michelle Matheson Southard, 39, as suspects. Goodin drives a dark-colored Toyota Celica with a loud muffler, authorities said, and both confessed to checking mailboxes in the area of Shiloh and Bell Farm roads. […]

Authorities said the case is still under investigation and more charges are pending. […]”

COMMENTS: Stop mail identity theft with a Mail Boss locking security mailbox. Don’t send sensitive mail from a curbside mailbox – instead bring it directly to the post office or use online bill pay. And of course, shred sensitive documents before discarding them to thwart dumpster divers.

Oakdale Police Blotter
Oakdale Patch – 8/30/11

(OAKDALE, MINNESOTA) “[…] Aug. 29: A resident in the 6800 block of 37th Street reported that someone opened two pieces of her mail and stole the letters inside, leaving the envelopes in her mailbox. One of the stolen letters was from a friend, and the other was from her church. […]”

COMMENTS: Criminals target your residential mailbox to steal checks, gift cards, and sensitive information for identity theft. Use the Mail Boss high security locking mailbox (available in Oakdale at Mills Fleet Farm) to protect yourself against mail-identity theft!

Crime Watch: Mailbox Thefts Continue
Roseville Patch – 8/30/11

(ROSEVILLE, WASHINGTON) “Mailbox Thefts Continue: Over the past month, Roseville Police have received 19 reports of community mailboxes being broken into during the night, and mail being stolen. The thefts have been concentrated in the Hillsborough neighborhood east of Sierra College Boulevard in late July, and in the Foothills/Junction neighborhood in mid-August.

According to Roseville Police, it’s likely there’s more than one group of suspects targeting the mailboxes. […]”

COMMENTS: Ask for the Mail Boss by name at Roseville Ace Hardware, to get yourself peace of mind in a high quality locking security mailbox at an affordable price!

Mail Theft Victim Delivers Complaint: A longtime Chatsworth resident says post office hasn’t done enough to help.
Chatsworth Patch – 8/30/11

(CHATSWORTH, CALIFORNIA) “Mail theft is a common crime: The United States Postal Inspection Service arrests the opportunistic thieves by the thousands every year, according to its website. The site states that the service made more than 6,000 arrests in connection with mail theft last year.

Recently, neighborhoods around Los Angeles have been hit with mail-theft schemes on a large scale. The Los Angeles Daily News reported last year that some members in a ring of eight thieves who each stole hundreds of pieces of mail in 2008 received four-year sentences for their crimes.

[…] The United States Postal Service website states that its inspection service is the primary handler of such cases; local post offices aren’t equipped to respond to thefts in their areas.

[…] According to the USPS website, handing mail directly to postal carriers, asking neighbors to pick up mail over vacations and starting Neighborhood Watch programs are other ways to avoid becoming a victim of mail theft. […]”

COMMENTS: Thieves prowl mailboxes to find easy cash, checks to use fraudulently, and sensitive information for identity theft. Mail theft in the Los Angeles area has been all over the news in the past months – it’s a growing problem. It reminds me of what it was like in the Seattle area a couple of years back. Residents need to take precautions:

  1. Use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to prevent thieves from stealing documents from your incoming mail.
  2. Never send checks, bill payments or other sensitive mail from your curbside mailbox – bring them directly to the post office (especially since collection mailboxes are being targeted) or use online bill pay – it’s more secure!
  3. Always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in your mailbox) before discarding them to thwart dumpster divers.

Two charged in Egg Harbor Township after alleged theft from mailboxes
Press of Atlantic City – 8/29/11

(EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY) “Two men were arrested in Egg Harbor Township Saturday for allegedly stealing mail from boxes at houses within the evacuation zone, police said in a news release.

Police said they were called to the area of Somers Point-Mays Landing Road near Steelmanville Road for a possible mail theft. Off-duty Ocean City police officer Sean O’Donoghue reported seeing two men in the area, one of whom was going through mailboxes. The area was in the evacuation zone.

Egg Harbor Township police officer Brian Keane responded and found the two men. After a short investigation, both were taken into custody. Mail was found scattered in the area. Officers collected the mail and returned it to the appropriate mailboxes. […]”

COMMENTS: That’s real nice – they wait until everyone evacuates for flood warnings to pilfer mailboxes! Unfortunately, mail theft is a fast-growing crime in the country as criminals increasingly target mailboxes to obtain sensitive information for identity theft. Use a locking mailbox to keep your identity safe when you’re not home, away on vacation, or in this case evacuation!

Mail theft, identity theft conspiracy
Waynesville Daily Guide – 8/29/11

(WAYSNESVILLE, MISSOURI) “Eight defendants have been indicted for their roles in a conspiracy to create and cash more than $134,000 in counterfeit checks in a three-state area.

The scheme allegedly involved stealing mail from businesses in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma in order to create counterfeit business checks, then using stolen identities to cash the counterfeit checks.

[…] During the time of the conspiracy, the group was successfully able to pass $61,335 in counterfeit checks at financial institutions in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The group unsuccessfully attempted to pass an additional $73,111 in counterfeit checks. […]”

COMMENTS: Identity theft rings are often highly complex and span vast regions, as in this case. They obtain sensitive information by whatever means possible, and mail is often targeted. Curbside residential mailboxes and business mailboxes alike are victimized, and residents and business owners should be aware of this growing problem to keep from being victimized.

Jacksonville woman sentenced for stealing mail for fraud
The Florida Times-Union – 8/26/11

(JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA) “A Jacksonville woman was the last of a four-person ring to be sentenced Friday for stealing checks and documents from mailboxes and parlaying them into a fraud enterprise.

[…] She, Gerald Thomas Lange, Anthony Joseph Henig and Kayla Rose Kirklin used the stolen mail to create counterfeit checks, identities, invoices and purchase orders. Then they would use them at various banks and businesses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. […]”

COMMENTS: Identity fraud rings are highly complex and they cannot be easily stopped. Prevention is key – protect your personal information, and that includes using a locking security mailbox, specifically, and vigilance with mail generally.

Thief takes out checks in DeKalb couple’s name
Atlanta Journal-Constitution – 8/29/11

(DeKALB, GEORGIA) “Police are investigating a check-theft scam with a bizarre twist: Somebody allegedly ordered home-equity checks in a homeowner’s name and then went on a $63,000 spending spree, Channel 2 Action News reports.

Police believe the thief used the victim’s account information to order the checks from Wells Fargo Bank, then waited until he and his wife were on vacation to steal the checks out of the mailbox of their DeKalb County home.

Seven checks have been forged and cashed around the metro area. “Someone had ordered checks on our home equity line, using our name and our address,” the victim’s wife told Channel 2 Action News. She asked the station that her name and her husband’s not be reported.

[…] “We’re getting cases like this on a regular basis,” Sandy Springs police Lt. Keith Zgonc told Channel 2. […]”

COMMENTS: I bet this makes you wish the banks didn’t send out all those courtesy checks against your line of credit! It is crazy to think, though, that people would go on vacation without considering the plethora of sensitive documents piling up in their mailbox. In this case, the bad guy was able to make out with over $60k in fraudulent checks. Wowza!

WashCo Sheriff says mailbox thief arrested for washing checks
Ozarks Abound – 8/24/11

(WASHINGTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS) “[…] Since mid-June, 2011 Washington County deputies have taken several reports from residents living in rural Washington County reporting theft of mail from their mailboxes. Residents also reported numerous checks they had originally made payable to utility companies, for medical bills and other miscellaneous bills, had resurfaced as being passed at various Wal-Mart stores in the Northwest Arkansas area.

Detectives were able to view video footage from some of the Wal-Mart stores and identified Ronald WEBB as the person passing the stolen checks. It was suspected WEBB was “washing the checks”, a phrase commonly used when someone removes the ink from the paper.

Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office conducted surveillance on WEBB and followed him to the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Springdale, AR. WEBB was seen attempting to pass a payroll check at the business.

The payroll check was later discovered to be stolen from a rural Washington County resident’s mailbox. […] At the time of his arrest, WEBB had in his possession one full bottle of Isopropyl Alcohol, which had four (4) stolen checks from rural Washington County residents inside it. Some of the hand printed ink was being removed by this process. […]

When WEBB was read his rights and interviewed, he confessed to stealing multiple checks from mailboxes. He estimated he passed twenty (20) checks at various Wal-Mart stores in Fayetteville, Springdale, and Rogers. […]”

COMMENTS: It often seems from stories that criminals only target outgoing mail but that is not the case. It is just easier for them to be caught stealing outgoing mail when trying to cash fraudulent checks. Stolen incoming mail is more often used for identity theft, which takes more time to complete, and is more difficult to detect and resolve.

ID/Mail Thief Who Crashed After Chase Pleads Guilty: Joshua Larry Kirby Charged With Identity Theft
WYFF – 8/24/11

(PICKENS COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA) “A 21-year-old Upstate man pleaded guilty Wednesday to identity theft.

Prosecutors said Joshua Larry Kirby, of Liberty, was working with others to pass forged checks. Williamston police arrested Kirby on Aug. 29, 2009, after Kirby wrecked the stolen car he was in while trying to evade police.

Officers said they found several pieces of mail in the stolen vehicle that were used to get personal information. Police said Kirby and the others cashed multiple forged checks using stolen or altered identification documents. […]”

COMMENTS: Mail theft is happening across the country, even in Pickens County South Carolina! It is one of the most common ways thieves obtain sensitive information for ID theft: in the mail they can find checks, courtesy checks against credit cards, bank account statements, credit card offers, etc. The solution is to secure incoming mail with a high security locked mailbox, and be vigilant sending outgoing mail. Never send sensitive mail from a curbside mailbox – bring it directly to the post office or use online bill pay. It’s more secure! As always, shred sensitive documents (most of which come in the mailbox) before discarding them to thwart dumpster divers.

Police investigate reports of stolen mail, thefts
The Fremont Tribune – 8/23/11

(FREMONT, NEBRASKA) “Fremont Police are investigating a Monday morning report of stolen mail. […]”

COMMENTS: Even in Fremont Nebraska, mail is being stolen! Protect your good name and your identity with a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss.

Woman gets 2 years in prison for stealing mail in metro-east
O’Fallon Progress – 8/23/11

(BELLEVILLE, ILLINOIS) “Nicole Marie Lance, 30, of Billings, Montana was sentenced today to two years imprisonment for stealing mail from residential mailboxes in O’Fallon, Fairview Heights, Belleville and Lebanon, according to federal prosecutors.

Lance was convicted of six counts of mail theft in federal court in May admitting to the theft of the mail, which included checks she altered to make payable to herself between Dec. 13 and Dec. 24.

“People rightfully put a lot of faith in the United States mail,” U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton said, in a press release. “They can do this, in part to the fact that even the smallest threats to the integrity of the mail are treated very seriously by the federal criminal justice system. I hope that today’s sentence will act as a deterrent to others who would prey on our postal system.”

[…] Lance was caught by police on Dec. 24 after officers noticed she matched the description of a suspect who was reported to have attempted to steal mail from a mailbox in Highland. She was followed to a Quiznos restaurant where police made contact with her and retrieved stolen mail from the toilet tank in the ladies’ rest room.

Further investigation of her vehicle and the residence where she had been staying, revealed additional stolen mail.”

COMMENTS: Kudos to law enforcement for catching this woman, and kudos to the justice system for putting her behind bars. Unfortunately, there are many more identity thieves out there, and residents still need to take precautions to secure their mail and protect their privacy.

Police name suspect in mailbox break-ins, thefts: Man is stealing checks, cashing them; police say he has an accomplice.
Hickory Daily Record – 8/22/11

hickory mail thief(HICKORY, NORTH CAROLINA) “Police believe they know who is behind a rash of mailbox break-ins that have left multiple business owners frustrated.

Warrants have been issued for Michael Vang for five counts for obtaining property by false pretense. Vang, 26, has been caught on surveillance video passing checks belonging to someone else, according to Hickory police.

[…] Vang and at least one other suspect, a female, have been hitting cluster mailboxes at area businesses in Catawba and surrounding counties, authorities said. They’ll pry open the back of the mailboxes and take the mail out of the boxes, looking for checks.

Hickory police is working 14 cases of cluster mailboxes that have been broken into, with several dozen victims. Checks were stolen from each mailbox.

[…] “They are cashing checks in other counties and are breaking into mailboxes in at least two, maybe three, other counties,” Deal said. He said police have recovered some of the stolen checks.

One business had to deal with having its mailbox broken into Monday morning. […]

“This one was hit Friday,” Greer said. “The mailman came in to deliver our mail today. He said this has been going on all over Hickory for two months.”

The mailbox has a lock in the back, and was pried open like a can, from the bottom up. None of the individual locks on the front of the mailboxes had been touched.

“I’m worried for our customers,” Greer said. “We have a lot of checks that are exchanged through the mail.” However, she said no checks are missing.

Still, the break-in was enough to make Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure change its way of doing business. “Any large checks we know will be coming in, we’ll use UPS,” Greer said. “And we’ll take our stuff straight to the Post Office to mail.” […]

COMMENTS: Community or business cluster mailboxes are frequently targeted by fraudsters and identity thieves because if they can violate the locking mechanism (which is often easy to do) they have access to multiple individuals and/or businesses mail. This happens all across the country. In addition it is likely he (and other thieves) are targeting non-locking mailboxes as well. It’s just that most victims of mail theft don’t realize their mail has been stolen unless the culprit leaves apparent damage, as with cluster boxes.

The solution for businesses and residents alike is a high security commercial mailbox like the Package Master. Unlike commercial cluster boxes, the Package Master by Mail Boss features a patented anti-pry latch locking mechanism to prevent leveraged entry, so access with a screwdriver or crowbar would prove exceedingly difficult.

Mailbox Vandalism Reported in Roseville: Mail Scattered In Several Neighborhoods
KCRA – 8/20/11

(ROSEVILLE, CALIFORNIA) “Roseville police are looking for the people responsible for vandalizing mailboxes throughout the city overnight.

Mail was scattered at mailboxes in several neighborhoods, police said.

Two mailboxes were broken into on Weston Way and Weston Court and more were vandalized on Lorimer Way and Revere Drive. Some of the mailboxes are cluster type so multiple addresses were affected. […]”

COMMENTS: It’s a misnomer to call this mailbox vandalism. Mailbox vandalism involves baseball bats or explosives, or maybe dog poop. This is mail-identity theft. Thieves are breaking into mailboxes to find sensitive documents for identity theft. They are keeping what is useful to them, and discarding the rest, so victims don’t know what is stolen. Cluster boxes are frequently targeted because they feature low security locks and thieves can take everyone’s mail at once!

Letter: Mailbox theft
The Friday Flyer – 8/19/11

(CANYON LAKE, CALIFORNIA) “Last night (August 15) our mailboxes were broken into. This apparently is becoming more common in the area. The vandals or thieves are looking for whatever they can find. It appears that the break-ins are occurring on or about the first and fifteenth. Sounds like they are looking for checks to me.

Community Patrol is keeping a eye out for thieves, but when it occurs in the middle of the night on dark side streets it’s hard to catch them. I would hope if anyone sees or hears something outside near mailboxes that they will call the police. The police are great, but they have no witnesses or evidence, so all they can do is take a report and give you the number in case you need it for identity theft or insurance.”

COMMENTS: Community mailboxes are frequently targeted by mail-identity thieves because they are easy to violate, and they house sensitive information for dozens of residents. If you have a choice, it always safer and more secure to use a residential locking mailbox like the Mail Boss instead of a community cluster box.

Mail Thief is Active in Valley
MyFox – 8/19/11

(SPOKANE VALLEY, WASHINGTON) “Numerous Spokane Valley residents living in the area of 14300 to 14600 East Sixth reported their mail being stolen from street-side rural mailboxes between Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon.

Residents found their mail opened and tossed on the ground along the roadway.

It was unknown if the thief found anything of value to steal, but identity theft suspects frequently target mail to obtain personal financial information which they then use to victimize the intended mail recipient.

Outgoing personal checks provide thieves with the names, addresses and account numbers of checking account holders, and incoming mail can provide pre-approved loan applications which can be activated with a simple signature.

Although financial institutions usually cover the victim’s monetary loss, it can take months or years to fix the victim’s credit history damaged by the suspect’s thefts.

Law enforcement professionals encourage all area residents to purchase a locking roadside mailbox to receive incoming mail on rural routes, or to rent a mailbox at the nearest post office.

Outgoing mail containing checks or cash should always be deposited in the larger blue U.S. Postal Service mailboxes located at shopping malls, grocery stores or in front of post office annexes.”

COMMENTS: Mail theft is one of the most common ways thieves obtain your personal information for identity theft. As this article states, a locking mailbox is essential to protect yourself from this fast-growing crime. However, it is important to know that not all locking mailboxes offer real protection against mail-identity theft. In fact, most locking mailboxes can be easily fished by hand or pried open with a screwdriver in just seconds. Make sure you get a secure locked mailbox that is made of heavy-gauge steel (not thin gauge metal or plastic) that cannot be easily fished or pried open. Some good options are the Mail Boss (available at your local Ace Hardware) as well as the Fort Knox or Armadillo.

Preliminary hearing set for couple arrested after car chase
The Union – 8/19/11

(NEVADA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA) “A preliminary hearing of the evidence has been set for Jasen Lynn Dushane, 35, of Reno, and Manda Lynn Wentzloff, 35, of Nevada City, who were arrested June 5 after a car chase in a stolen Lexus.

[…] Wentzloff was apprehended at the scene, and told deputies she had been staying at a motel in Reno with Dushane. At the Nevada motel, deputies reportedly also found a stolen BMW. Inside the motel room, deputies found evidence Dushane and Wentzloff had forged checks, printed false identification and printed their own forged checks, and also found stolen mail, Sheriff Keith Royal said. Dushane was arrested in Nevada County later that afternoon. […]

The pair also face federal charges due to the mail theft.”

COMMENTS: They forged checks and printed false identification. How did they manage to do so? Well, they stole mail. Mail contains a plethora of sensitive information that criminals can use for identity theft. That is why it’s so important to use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss.

Leave a Comment