Valley Man Says Large Check Stolen
KRGV5 – 12/18/10
(BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS) “Jaime Vega says he nearly didn’t have Christmas this year, after nearly $6,000 was stolen from him.
A check for $5,900 was stolen out of his mailbox. He says it was cashed at a Casa de Cambio in Brownsville.
“They got the picture of the guy, the Social Security number, the resident alien card, and a Mexican Driver’s License of the guy with the guy’s name. It didn’t match my name.
[…] They say if you’re expecting a large check from a company have it either shipped to a post office box, or have the money wired to your bank account.”
COMMENTS: Whether you get large checks in the mail or not, it is not wise to leave your mailbox unlocked with your most sensitive documents vulnerable in the curbside mailbox for any passerby to steal. With the prevalence of mail-identity theft and check fraud, a locking mailbox is a modern-day necessity. One like the Mail Boss can’t be fished by hand, and will keep your mail safe from would-be identity thieves until you retrieve it with your own unique key.
Thieves target Christmas mail in Port Townsend neighborhoods
Port Townsend Leader – 12/17/10
(PORT TOWNSEND, WASHINGTON) “Thieves have hit mailboxes in at least two Port Townsend neighborhoods looking for Christmas cash, gift cards and checks sent for the holidays, according to the Port Townsend Police Department.
Sgt. Ed Green, PTPD public information officer, said residents of the North Beach neighborhood and those living around the intersection of Howard Street and Hastings Avenue have reported their mail stolen.
At about 8:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 10, local attorney Noah Harrison found a stack of discarded mail near the intersection of San Juan and Admiralty avenues while driving to the courthouse.
Green said it appears thieves have targeted only holiday mail and left other correspondence alone.
One Port Townsend Jefferson County Leader staffer who lives in the Uptown neighborhood near Port Townsend High School, reported someone had rifled through her holiday mail.
Green said, it appears as though all the mail was taken from non-locking mailboxes.
COMMENTS: Locking mailboxes are an easy way to prevent mail theft, but know that not all locking mailboxes are secure. Many can be easily fished by hand or pried open with a screwdriver, and therefore can be easily violated by persistent mail-identity thieves. To protect yourself, use a high quality locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to secure your incoming mail. Never send sensitive mail from unsecured mailboxes, and always shred sensitive documents before discarding them. Around the Holidays, it is wise to request signature required for all packages too.
Police Blotter for Dec. 17
New Castle News – 12/17/10
(NEW CASTLE, WASHINGTON) “[…] Mail theft A woman reported that mail had been stolen from her mailbox, in the 6800 block of Lake Washington Boulevard Southeast at about noon Oct. 30. […]”
COMMENTS: Mail theft is very common in western Washington. To protect yourself, get the Mail Boss, which can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver. You can find the Mail Boss at Crossroads Ace Hardware in Bellevue.
Postal service says mail theft is rare
Midlands Connect – 12/17/10
(WEST COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA) “Like Santa’s little elves, the men and women of the United States Postal Service doing their best to deal with the holiday rush. Postal Service spokesman Harry Spratlin says it’s extremely rare to have your mail plundered by a grinch.
“We’ve had a couple cases this year. This is the first time we’ve had such a thing happen.” Spratlin is referring to a string of mail thefts in the Upstate. “This type of thing is rare at Christmas, but people are expecting a lot of packages this time of year.”
Spratlin says to decrease the chance of becoming a victim, never send cash through the mail. You can also send mail certified or registered, and request delivery confirmation. You can even take it a step further.
“You can go to a do it yourself store and they have a whole line of mail boxes and some of them have locks,” says Spratlin.
16 billion pieces of mail will be sent between Thanksgiving and Christmas, some it passing through the sprawling facility in West Columbia.
“Most anyone who’s lived in an address for a certain period of time has pretty much an agreement or an idea where the letter carrier is going to leave any package that’s delivered. If you want that changed you need to call the post office,” Spratlin says.
Following these tips can help your letter carrier and help you enjoy all your Christmas mail this holiday season.”
COMMENTS: Of course the Postal Service says that mail theft is rare – they have a vested interest in Americans continuing to trust and use the U.S. Mail. The sad reality, however, is that mail theft is much more common than most realize. Often victims of mail theft never realize their mail has been stolen unless the thief is able to use their information for identity theft. Because most mail theft doesn’t necessarily result in identity theft, stolen mail goes unnoticed and grossly underreported.
Research by Javelin Strategy indicates that mail theft is in fact one of the leading causes of identity theft. Only about 1/3 of ID theft victims know how their information was compromised, and of those who do, the majority indicate old fashioned methods (stolen wallets, stolen mail, stolen trash) as the cause.
To prevent mail identity theft, using a high quality locking mailbox to secure incoming mail is of utmost importance. No sense leaving your most sensitive personal information in the mailbox for any passerby to steal.
Police seek help in mail thefts case
Northwest Herald – 12/17/10
(McHENRY COUNTY, ILLINOIS) “Police are looking for help investigating a string of recent mail thefts and tampering that happened mostly in the northwestern part of McHenry County.
People have reported that their mail either has been stolen or rifled through by someone looking for cash, gift cards, and personal account information, according to a news release from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department.
The mail usually is taken out of mailboxes that have the flag up, and it’s usually gone through and then resealed with a sticker.
Police recommend that residents send off outgoing mail at the post office or in post office drop boxes; try to avoid sending cash or personal information in cards; consider using a P.O. box for receiving mail; remember that bills contain personal information; and stop mail and newspaper delivery while out of town. […]”
COMMENTS: Mail identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, and thieves routinely target your curbside mailbox to steal checks and other sensitive documents for identity theft. To protect yourself, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss. It can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver, so you know your mail is safe until you retrieve it with your key. To be safe, only send checks from secured boxes or use online bill pay – it’s safer. And always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in your mailbox) before discarding them to keep thieves from stealing your information from the trash.
Police say woman driving red SUV is stealing mail
Suspect targeting bills left in mailboxes also involved in financial fraud, authorities say
Spartanburg Journal – 12/17/10
Officers looking for suspect stealing from residential mailboxes
Spartanburg Journal – 12/16/10
(SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA) “Spartanburg County deputies are asking for the public’s help in locating a woman they believe is driving through neighborhoods stealing outgoing mail, and authorities are urging residents not to use the mailboxes in front of their homes.
According to an arrest warrant, Teresa Miner Grell, 43, of 442 Gentry St., Spartanburg, faces a charge of financial transaction card fraud more than $500 in a six month period. Investigators, however, say Grell is a suspect in seven cases involving mail theft and forgery, according to a written statement from the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.
“We strongly encourage citizens not to use the mailbox in front of their homes to mail out payments,” Master Deputy Tony Ivey said in a statement. “Instead we ask that they drop this type of mail in a blue U.S. Postal Service mailbox or take the mail directly to their local post office.”
“If you see any vehicle driving slowly through your neighborhood, especially one that is stopping at mailboxes, call your local law enforcement immediately.”
Ivey said most of the thefts have been reported in neighborhoods on the eastern side of Spartanburg County.
According to a report of the most recent incident, a Carlisle Bennett Road resident told a deputy that he saw a red sport utility vehicle drive up to his mailbox at about 12:50 p.m. Monday, and the driver stole checks from the mailbox.
In a Dec. 6 incident report, a resident of Cannons Campground Road said a reddish SUV drove up to his mailbox and took the mail from inside. The man told a deputy that he spoke with his mail carrier, who said she did not pick up mail from his box that day, the report states.
[…] Harry Spratlin, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, reminds residents they can communicate with their mail carriers via the agency’s website at www.usps.com about secure mail, package delivery and pick up.
“If you believe you’ve been victimized, file a report with local law enforcement and call the post office to report it to the Postal Inspection Service,” Spratlin said. “Mail theft is a very serious crime.”
A person charged with mail theft can be charged on the federal level and face a five-year prison sentence and $25,000 fine, Spratlin said. […]”
COMMENTS: Mail thieves are opportunistic. They do not target only outgoing bill payments or only pre-approved credit card offers. They steal whatever is available and they use it if they can. If not, they dump it. You may never even realize your mail has been stolen, unless the thief is successfully able to use your information fraudulently, and even then it can take several months to figure it out, and many more months to put the pieces back together. Given the epidemic of mail-identity theft across the country, vigilance is key to prevention. Use a high quality secure mailbox like the Mail Boss to protect incoming mail, and never send sensitive mail from your mailbox. Bring it directly to the post office instead.
Neighbors Suspect Mail Theft Ring
KKTV – 12/16/10
(BLACK FOREST, COLORADO) “Just before Christmas, some residents in Black Forest say they’ve been hit by a mail theft ring over the past week, and crooks seem to be looking for cash, gift cards, and presents. Now, neighbors say they’re frustrated.
“You don’t even know what you’re getting, and then you don’t get it,” said Sally Burr, who came home on Saturday night to find her mail box empty. The next day, while driving, she saw several piles of mail with dozens of pieces belonging to six or seven different addresses, thrown out on the side of the road.
“They’re evidently going in, grabbing all the mail, they go a mile down the road and open it up, take what they want, and throw the rest out,” said Maggie Stone, a Black Forest resident who has also seen piles of discarded mail, as well as open boxes along the roadside in her neighborhood.
It seems to be happening on several streets, and residents don’t know how to make it stop.
A few of them have contacted local authorities as well as the Postal Inspection Service, but they realize that mail thieves are difficult to catch.
“Do I expect the sheriff to sit by every body’s mail box and watch? No I don’t,” said Burr. “It’s not the postman’s fault. He delivers the mail in good conscience. I don’t know if there is a solution.”
Jeff Reed, a federal agent with the Postal Inspection Service out of Denver, told 11 News that over the holidays, when the volume of mail sent is higher, theft cases are more frequent. In addition, rural areas are easier targets for crooks because the isolated location of mail boxes gives them some protection.
Without knowing what else to do, residents in Black Forest are just trying bring attention to these cases, and also help warn others what to do to keep their mail safe.
Here are some suggestions from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service:
- Know exactly when your mail is delivered, and make sure it doesn’t sit in your mail box for very long, particularly overnight.
- If you live in a rural area, look into setting up a neighborhood delivery box unit – a large metal unit that has locked boxes for each neighbor in the area.
- If you have any mail that has been tampered with, stolen, damaged or vandalized, report it immediately by calling 1-877-876-2455
Reed also wants would-be mail crooks to keep in mind that mail theft is a federal crime, which is punishable up to five years in prison.
COMMENTS: The solution is easy! Use a high quality locking mailbox that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open by would-be mail-identity thieves. A locked mailbox keeps your mail safe until you can retrieve it. The problem with mail theft is that often times residents don’t realize when their mail has been stolen. In this case, neighbors are – in a sense – lucky to at least know that something is wrong, seeing the discarded piles of mail. Mail theft is at an all time high, and a good defense is key! When choosing a locking mailbox, avoid models that you can easily violate by fishing or prying, as thieves can easily violate many locking mailboxes.
Residents urged to watch for mail theft, tampering
Rockford Register Star – 12/16/10
(WOODSTOCK, ILLINOIS) ” A warning issued today by the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department to its residents is probably one all Rock River Valley residents should adhere to this time of year.
The Sheriff’s Department is investigating multiple reports of mail theft and tampering.
Offenders working in the northwestern part of the county are rifling through delivered residential mail stealing anything of value, such as cash and gift cards, in holiday greeting cards and any items containing personal account information. The mail is then resealed with a sticker.
The same offense occurs when residents place outgoing mail in the mailbox with the red flag up.
The Sheriff’s Department suggested the following tips to keep your mail and personal information safe:
Use the post office or post office mail drop boxes for outgoing mail. The raised red flag can draw the attention of potential offenders.
Avoid sending cash or personal information in cards.
Consider using a P.O. box address at the post office for receiving your mail.
Remember, your bills contain account information, which may lead to more personal information and, ultimately, identity theft.
Stop your mail and newspaper delivery during vacation or periods of time that you cannot get your mail in a timely manner. If you do not want to stop delivery services, ask someone that you trust to pick up your mail.
Report any suspicious activity or theft of mail to your local postmaster or to your local police or sheriff’s office.”
COMMENTS: The best defense against mail identity theft is vigilance, and that includes the use of a high security locking mailbox like the MailBoss. With a quality secure mailbox, there is no need to worry about getting your mail promptly after delivery, or using a PO Box. You can trust that your mail is safe until you retrieve it with your own key. In addition, do not send sensitive mail or checks from your mailbox. Bring bill payments and holiday gift cards directly to the post office. When possible, use online bill pay – it’s more secure. Finally, always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in your mailbox) before discarding them.
Police seek help investigating mail thefts
Northwest Herald – 12/16/10
(McHENRY COUNTY, ILLINOIS) “Police are looking for help investigating a string of recent mail thefts and tampering that happened mostly in the northwestern area of McHenry County.
People have reported that their mail has either been stolen or rifled through by someone looking for cash, gift cards, and personal account information, according to a media release from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department.
The mail usually is taken out of mailboxes that have the flag up, and it’s usually gone through and then resealed with a sticker.
Police recommend that residents send off outgoing mail at the Post Office or in Post Office drop boxes; try to avoid sending cash or personal information in cards; consider using a P.O. box for receiving mail; remember that bills contain personal information; and stop mail and newspaper delivery while out of town. […]”
COMMENTS: Thieves target outgoing mail to steal checks, but they also target incoming mail to steal sensitive information for identity theft. To protect yourself, the best defense is three fold: (1) Use a high quality locking mailbox like the Mail Boss Package Master to keep thieves from stealing your incoming mail; (2) Never send sensitive documents or checks from an unsecured mailbox – bring them directly to the post office or use online bill pay – it’s more secure; and (3) Always shred sensitive documents, most of which come in the mailbox, before discarding them in order to prevent dumpster diving.
Mail theft reported in rural areas
Redwood Times – 12/16/10
(EUREKA, CALIFORNIA) “The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department has issued an advisory about mail thefts in the Eureka area, but mail theft isn’t strictly an urban issue. Some rural mail route box holders in the Southern Humboldt area have reported mail taken from their mailboxes over the past few weeks.
Garberville Postmaster Ron Swihart advises rural box holders not to leave mail in their boxes too long. The mail carrier comes by at about the same time every day, he says, and box holders should get their mail as soon as possible. Mail left in boxes overnight is more likely to be stolen. To avoid having mail accumulate in your mailbox, let the carrier or the post office know when you will be away and ask them to hold your mail until you return. If an expected check or other valuable mail doesn’t arrive on time, contact the issuing agency immediately.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service recommends that outgoing mail such as bill payments should be handed directly to the carrier or dropped in the mailbox at the post office.”
COMMENTS: Just picking up your mail promptly is not adequate, as some thieves are so brazen they follow the mail carrier. The best defense against mail-identity theft is a high quality locking mailbox like the Mail Boss that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver. In addition, never send checks from an unsecured mailbox and always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in your mailbox) before discarding them.
Alleged mail thief busted in Addison
Oxford Leader – 12/15/10
(ADDISON, MICHIGAN) “An alleged mail thief was apprehended by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department in Addison Township Dec. 11.
A 23-year-old Addison man was arrested by deputies after “several hundred pieces of stolen mail,” both opened and unopened, were found at his residence on Hosner Road, according to the sheriff’s department.
The suspect “admitted to stealing the mail along with another suspect,” a 22-year-old man from Waterford Township.
The matter is still under investigation and no charges regarding the mail theft have been issued yet. Federal authorities have been contacted.
It all started when an off-duty sheriff’s deputy who was in the area of Haven and Leonard roads discovered several pieces of discarded mail that had been opened laying along the side of the road.
An on-duty deputy from the Addison substation was dispatched and together the two officers were able to contact some of the homeowners whose mail was found.
“Several homeowners indicated they have not recently received mail,” the sheriff’s department reported.
A witness obtained the license plate of a vehicle acting suspiciously in the area of 5800 and 5850 Hosner Rd. […]”
COMMENTS: Some of the residents had indicated they had not been receiving mail, but none of them reported anything to police, because most victims of mail theft do not realize when their mail has been stolen. Many more residents probably did not even know there had been any abnormal mail delivery even when questioned by police!
The fact is criminals are targeting your mailbox to steal sensitive documents for identity theft. To protect yourself, use a high quality locking mailbox like the Mail Boss that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver. Mail Boss keeps your mail safe until you retrieve it with your own unique key.
Mud leads to discovery of stolen mail
An SUV stuck in a field contained a variety of other people’s possessions, law enforcement officers say.
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin – 12/14/10
(WALLA WALLA WASHINGTON) “Mud caused by recent heavy rains became a tool and foil for local law enforcement officers this week. […]”
COMMENTS: Subscribers can read the rest of the story, but the basic summary is that large amounts of stolen mail were found discarded in the field. When residents have their mail stolen, often times they do not even realize it. By the time they do, it’s often too late. To protect yourself, secure your mail with a locking mail box.
Detectives: Man stole check from mailbox, created fake copies
KTRK 13 – 12/13/10
(HOUSTON, TEXAS) “Authorities are searching for a man who stole a check from a mailbox and used it to create and issue fake checks.
Harris County detectives say a 61-year-old man had put a check inside a birthday card he was mailing to his son then someone stole the birthday card from the mail. Three days later, the suspect began making several unauthorized purchases with bogus checks using the victim’s name and checking account information.
The suspect used the checks to buy more than $200,000 of items from Walmart, Lowes, Krogers, and Northern Tool and Equipment. […]”
COMMENTS: It is never a good idea to send checks in the mail, as they can be stolen from outgoing mail or from incoming mail of the intended recipient. If you must send a check in the mail, bring them to the post office, and be sure that the recipient has a high quality locking mailbox like the Mail Boss so no would-be mail-identity thieves can intercept the check.
Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office warns of mail thefts
Law enforcers say steps should be taken to secure incoming and outgoing mail.
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin – 12/13/10
(WALLA WALLA, WASHINGTON) “Law enforcement officials are asking residents to be extra-cautious sending and receiving mail during the holiday season, following increased reports of stolen mail.
Detective Cristal Harris with the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office offers some tips to help residents take preventative measures while using mail services:
Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery or get a locked mailbox.
Deposit outgoing mail in a post office collection box, not your own mailbox.
Shred pre-approved credit applications, credit card receipts, bills and other financial information you don’t want before recycling them.
Never put your credit card or any other financial account number on a postcard or on the outside of an envelope.
Be conscious of the normal receipt of routine financial statements and bills. Contact the sender as soon as possible if they are not received in the mail.
If you applied for a new credit card (or checks) and it has not arrived in a timely manner, call the bank or credit card company involved. The best option is to have them sent to a more secure mailbox or a post office box.”
COMMENTS: Great advice! Specifically, residents should use PO Boxes or secure mailboxes to prevent theft of incoming mail. Thieves can obtain a wealth of sensitive personal information from your incoming mail, which they may steal from your mailbox or from your trash. That’s why it’s also important to shred sensitive documents (most of which come in your mailbox) before discarding them.
Lincoln police looking for giant, stolen mailbox
Lincoln Journal Star – 12/13/10
(LINCOLN, NEBRASKA) “Police often advise Lincoln residents to be on the lookout for people stealing packages from the front steps of their neighbors’ homes or their own during the holiday season.
Apparently, folks need to be on the lookout for mailbox thieves, too.
Lincoln Police Officer Katie Flood said a 12-slot U.S. Postal Service-issued mailbox was uprooted from the 500 block of South 27th Street between Friday morning and Saturday morning.
Its contents are, of course, unknown, but the mailbox itself is valued at $1,500, Flood said.”
COMMENTS: This case sounds like a prank gone awry or perhaps a hit and run and the driver decided to take the evidence, and not mail theft that we usually cover. However, this story makes a good point: the victim “of course” does not know the contents of the mailbox. The sensitive personal information in your mailbox may be much more valuable to thieves than, say, a $1,500 mailbox. These documents can be used for identity theft, which can be highly lucrative for thieves, but require hundreds of hours of your time to reconcile. To protect yourself, use a high quality secure mailbox like the Mail Boss to keep your mail safe from would-be identity theives.
Wilmette, Dec. 9-13: UPS packages stolen from porches, and more
Trib Local – 12/13/10
(WILMETTE, ILLINOIS) “[…] Two UPS packages were reported stolen from the front porch of a home in the 1000 block of Oakwood Avenue at 9 a.m. Dec. 10. The theft took place Dec. 6. The loss totaled $306
A UPS package was stolen from the front porch of a home in the 800 block of Oakwood Avenue sometime between Dec. 2-6. The loss was estimated at $160. Also stolen from the homeowner’s mail was a credit card, which someone charged more than $16,000 between Dec. 3-11. […]”
COMMENTS: Theft of mail and packages increases around the Holidays. If you have your Christmas packages stolen, it may put you out a couple hundred dollars and be incredibly annoying. However, if you have your mail stolen thieves can put you out much, much more… to the tune of, oh, $16,000 in this case! That is why it is so important to use a high security mailbox like the Mail Boss to keep your incoming mail out of the hands of would-be identity thieves.