The following are a round up of mail-identity theft reports, stolen mail police blotters, and mail theft advisories from across the nation, Nov. 27-Dec.6, 2011.
Sierra Vista, ARIZONA:Postal authorities are advising residents in the Hereford area to collect their mail promptly, after several recent incidents of mail theft. Residents have found discarding mail strewn along the streets and even on riverbanks, suggesting thieves are plundering mailboxes take useful information and throwing out the junk.
- The Herald (12.5.11) – Hereford residents urged to secure mail boxes after 2 incidents
COMMENTS: Mail theft is one of the easiest and most common ways thieves obtain your sensitive information for identity theft. It is so easy for a crook to walk by your mailbox and discretely sort through your mail taking useful information and leaving the rest. Most victims of mail theft do not even realize their mail has been stolen unless, as in these cases, discarded mail is found. If your mail is stolen, immediately put an alert with the credit bureaus and report the incident to police. To protect yourself, use a high security locking mailbox. They can be found at your local Ace Hardware.
Dothan, ALABAMA: A mail thief was caught trying to cash a forged check he had stolen from a resident’s mailbox on East Selma Street. The victim said he put a check in his mailbox, where it was picked up not by the postal carrier but by an opportunistic mail thief. Police are now urging residents to bring bill payments directly to the post office.
- Dothan Eagle (12.5.11) – Mail theft results in forged check arrest by Dothan police
COMMENTS: Outgoing mail often contains checks which can be forged and bill payments with sensitive information that can be used for identity theft. As such, residents should bring this sensitive mail directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure. By that same token, incoming mail contains a plethora of sensitive information for identity theft as well, and residents should take precautions. Specifically, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to protect incoming mail from would-be identity thieves.
Northeast OKLAHOMA: Police have busted a huge theft ring that stretches from Okmulgee, Creek and Tulsa Counties, and has impacted over 100 victims. The loot ranges from jewelry and electronics stolen during burglaries to medical bills and social security statements stolen from mailboxes. Police officers made a big break in the case after busting a meth lab back in November. The investigation that followed led to suspected ring leader, Justin Wasson of Tulsa, who is now behind bars. His cronies range in age from 17 to 44, and likely all have one thing in common – an addiction to methamphetamine.
- Fox 23 News (12.2.11) – N.E. OK theft ring bust connected to 100 victims
COMMENTS: Identity theft rings are highly complex, and are often involved in other criminal enterprises as well – most frequently methamphetamine use and distribution. MSNBC did a very interesting expose on the connection here. Both identity theft and methamphetamine are epidemic problems in the United States, so residents should keep that in mind and take precautions to prevent becoming victims.
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.
- Roseville, CALIFORNIA: Roseville Patch (12.6.11) – Crime Watch: Cluster Mailboxes Vandalised
- Pinole, CALIFORNIA: Pinole Patch (12.1.11) – Police Log: Stick in Mail Slot and More
- Wilton, CONNECTICUT: Wilton Villager (12.1.11) – Wilton Police Reports: Alleged mailbox vandal keeps a souvenir
- Seattle, WASHINGTON: Maple Leaf Life (12.2.11) – Reader reports car prowls, mail thefts overnight
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.
- Mercer Island, WASHINGTON: Mercer Island Patch (12.6.11) – December Crime Prevention Tip of the Month
- Shelby County, ALABAMA: Shelby County Reporter (12.6.11) – Protect yourself from crime this holiday season
- Chilliwack, BRITISH COLUMBIA: Chilliwack Progress (12.6.11) – Mail theft in Chilliwack: A Christmas trend
- Plainview, TEXAS: MyPlainview (12.4.11) – ‘Tis the season for burglars and thieves
- Waldo, MAINE: Waldo Village Soup (12.4.11) – Protect Your Identity and Your Credit This Holiday Season
- Hudson Valley, NEW YORK: Times Herald-Record (12.3.11) – Be careful as ID theft rises, gets more refined
- Santa Barbara, CALIFORNIA: KSBY (11.30.11) – Identity theft on the rise
- Grafton, OREGON: Grafton Patch (11.30.11) – Crime Never Takes a Holiday: Be careful when mailing and receiving holiday packages.
- Klamath Falls, OREGON: Herald and News (11.30.11) – Holidays give mail thieves opportunity
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!
Auburn, CALIFORNIA: Hundreds of pieces of stolen mail have been recovered after police searched a stolen vehicle. The mail, which included over 15 credit and debit cards, was in three large bags inside of the car. Mail was stolen from residences in Auburn, and attributable losses exceed $70,000. The man responsible has been arrested, and now police are working with USPS Inspectors to notify victims.
- Auburn Journal (11.30.11) – Post office contacting victims over bags of filched Auburn mail found in stolen vehicle
COMMENTS: I bet there were hardly any reports of mail theft in Auburn leading to this arrest. That’s the crazy thing about mail theft… most of the time people don’t even realize their mail has been stolen. Research shows the majority of ID theft victims also have no idea how their information was compromised. All over the country, but especially in high risk areas like Auburn, residents need to take precautions. Use a locking mailbox to protect your incoming mail, and don’t send sensitive mail from an unlocked mailbox!
Oakdale, MINNESOTA: There has been a rash of mail thefts in the Oakdale area, and with no suspects, police are now urging residents to take precautions. The Oakdale PD recommends using a locked mailbox for mail theft prevention, and warn residents not to send checks or sensitive mail for curbside mailboxes. They also offer tips for what to do if your mail is stolen.
- Oakdale Patch (12.5.11) – Reports of Mail Tampering, Theft Detailed
- Oakdale Patch (12.4.11) – Oakdale Police Blotter: Numerous residents say their mailboxes had been opened
- Oakdale Patch (12.4.11) – Week in Review: December 4 Edition
- Oakdale Patch (11.30.11) – Numerous Reports of Mail Theft in Oakdale, Police Department Urges Precautions
- Oakdale-Lake Elmo Review (11.30.11) – Mail thieves target Oakdale over Thanksgiving holiday
COMMENTS: Whereas a few years ago mail theft was almost unheard of in Minnesota, now it’s a daily occurrence. Police are right to urge residents to take precautions – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! To protect yourself use a high security mailbox like the Mail Boss that can’t be easily pried open or fished by hand. In Oakdale, you can find the Mail Boss at Mills Fleet Farm.
El Paso County, COLORADO: Ten people have been arrested in connection with a mail-identity theft ring. At least 69 victims have been identified. The thieves stole incoming and outgoing mail from residential mailboxes, looking for sensitive bank account information to use for check fraud and identity theft.
- Denver Post (11.29.11) – El Paso County sheriffs arrest 10 in identity-theft ring
- KRDO 13 (11.28.11) – Ten Arrested In El Paso Identity Theft Ring: 69 Victims Identified In Identity Theft Scam
- FOX 21 (11.28.11) – 10 arrested for ID theft, 69 victims found
- The Gazette (11.28.11) – 10 arrested in El Paso County identity theft ring
- KKTV (11.28.11) – Ten Arrested In Mail, Identity Theft Case
COMMENTS: Mail theft is one of the easiest ways for thieves to get your personal information for identity theft. If you are a victim of mail theft, read this for what to do. Of course, you’d be better off just preventing mail theft. Use a high security locked mailbox to protect incoming mail from would-be ID thieves, and never send sensitive mail from an unsecured mailbox. Bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay. It’s more secure!