Mail Theft Monday – 3/15/10

People detail stories of missing mail
Rutland Herald – 3/13/10

(RUTLAND, VERMONT) “A rash of vanishing greeting cards revealed itself in Rutland Friday. Ten people contacted the Herald in response to a story on an investigation into stolen mail, saying they had also received letters from the [USPS] Office of the Inspector General notifying them that an investigation had turned up items they mailed that never arrived. An 11th person posted on the Herald’s Web site about getting such a letter.

The letters, signed by Special Agent Kenneth Velazquez, only describe whoever had the ill-gotten mail as “someone other than your address” and were accompanied by photocopies of an envelope and, often, a check enclosed in it. In all the cases described, the envelope was never postmarked and nobody is known to have tried to cash the check.

Lori LaPenna, who came forward earlier this week, said Friday she had heard from numerous other victims. “People have been calling me since quarter after six this morning,” she said.

Marie Patterson of Rutland said she noticed a while ago that cards were not getting to her brother’s nursing home. She said she later asked a priest if he had received a birthday card she sent him. When he said he hadn’t, she thought at first he was kidding.

“That’s when I started questioning around,” she said. “I was missing seven or nine — I don’t know how many it was.” Patterson said her letter from the Postal Service only refers to one piece of mail. “I want to know where my other cards went,” she said.

Marie Gosinski, also of Rutland, said her letter referred to five missing pieces of mail. “I have a feeling this is a big can of worms,” she said. “Mine were thick, like they had something in them. Nothing of value, but they had something in them … like a card to my granddaughter saying she’d be receiving a magazine.”

Gosinski said others included cards like a thank-you note or a condolence card and she did not realize they were missing. “You don’t usually know if people received things like that,” she said. Particularly galling, Gosinski said, is that several of her missing cards were the music-playing kind, which cost more to mail.

Lori Steele of Rutland, who said she lost a birthday card, though not one that contained money, said she thinks the Postal Service needs to be more forthcoming and sent a letter back to them saying so. “I wanted to know if I have to worry about putting mail in my mailbox at night or if I have to worry about my carrier,” she said. “I think we do have a right to know, one way or the other, is our mail safe.”

The Postal Service has referred all questions on the investigation to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin could not be reached for comment Friday, but has previously said he will not comment on — or even confirm the existence of — investigations not yet in the public domain.”

COMMENTS: From this article, it sounds like letters and cards are being stolen from residents’ outgoing mail. The best solution to prevent this from happening is to always send mail via a secure blue USPS mailbox. However, it is also imperative to secure incoming mail, where thieves can find everything they need to steal your identity. It is also much more difficult to discover theft of incoming mail, because you might not realize what is missing. Then in several months, your identity is compromised and you don’t know how! Prevention is key, and that includes – in addition to sending mail via blue USPS boxes – using a secure locking mailbox and shredding all mail before discarding it.

Matthews mail thefts reported
Charlotte Observer – 3/10/10

(MATTHEWS, NORTH CAROLINA) “Matthews police say they are dealing with a growing number of mail theft cases in recent weeks. Those include several incidents in which thieves took checks from mailboxes and used them fraudulently, police say.

“Even locked mailboxes have been broken into for this purpose,” Matthews police Officer Stason Tyrrell said, adding that the cases involve both business and residential theft.

Tyrrell suggests residents deposit any mail containing checks directly into a U.S. Postal Service mailbox, rather than leaving mail in their mailboxes for pickup. In addition, he said, any other mail containing identity information should be taken directly to a postal service box.

COMMENTS: It is not surprising that even locked mailboxes are being burglarized. Most locking mailboxes are not, in fact, secure. The Mail Boss is a high security locking mailbox that can protect your incoming mail and identity, as are the Fort Knox and the Armadillo. Remember, there are three elements to mail identity theft prevention: (1) secure incoming mail with a high security locking mailbox; (2) use blue USPS mailboxes to send outgoing mail with sensitive documents or checks; and (3) always shred sensitive mail before discarding it. That’s it!

Mail Theft Rises in Local Community
WSOC 9 – 3/10/10

(MATTHEWS, NORTH CAROLINA) “Police said thieves have recently started targeting mailboxes in Matthews.

Carl Callori said $1,500 in checks were swiped from his mailbox. “It’s scary,” he said. Callori said he usually takes his bills directly to the post office, but on a rainy day last month, he dropped them in his mailbox, raised the red flag and went on with his day. “Three weeks later, my creditors started to call up and they’re not receiving checks,” he said.

Mail was stolen from two other homes on the same block as Callori’s, police said. Now, Matthews police are investigating at least half a dozen other cases on Independence Pointe Parkway, including Morningstar Properties and Dave Hayes’ consignment store.

Hayes’ incoming mail was ransacked, and a check for $1,400 was stolen. “We knew who it was from [and] we called them immediately and stopped payment so the check was never cashed,” Hayes said.

U.S. Postal Inspectors said similar crimes are happening in Charlotte, where investigations are ongoing. They said the best way to avoid being targeted is to take checks straight to the post office.

Callori needs no convincing. He said he is taking precaution with all of his mail. “They can take anything that they want as long as your name is on it [and] your address is on it,” he said. “They can get it.” In Callori’s case, police said the thief altered his checks and cashed them in Charleston, S.C.

Matthews police are working with postal inspectors and said they have some suspects, but haven’t arrested anyone yet.”

COMMENTS: You should never send checks from unsecured mailboxes. But it’s important to know that it’s not just outgoing mail that is being stolen. Incoming mail is also being “ransacked.” And thieves can steal more than just checks from your incoming mail. They can steal EVERYTHING they need for identity theft – bank statements, social security statements, pre-approved credit card offers, etc. People MUST use a locking security mailbox like the MAIL BOSS to secure their incoming mail and protect their identity. You can get the Mail Boss online or at your local Ace Hardware or True Value. Ask for it by name, because MOST OTHER locking mail boxes are NOT truly secure – can be pried or fished by hand.

Olathe woman pleads guilty to identity theft in KCK court
Kansas City Kansan – 3/9/10

(OLATHE, KANSAS) “Marcella Diane Machado, 46, Olathe, Kan., has pleaded guilty to identity theft charges, U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said today. Machado pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated identity theft, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of possessing a check stolen from a mailbox.

In her plea, she admitted that from Dec. 8, 2008, to Jan. 21, 2009, she and co-defendant Robert Leroy Maxwell conspired to defraud [multiple banks] by stealing checks and using stolen identities to cash the checks. In one instance, Machado used a driver’s license stolen from a woman in Spring Hill, Kan., and a checkbook stolen from a man in Lenexa, Kan., to attempt to cash a $670 check at a grocery store in Lawrence, Kan. In another instance, she used another woman’s stolen driver’s license […].

Machado also admitted aiding and abetting Maxwell in the possession of a check drawn on an excavating company that had been stolen from a mailbox in Oskaloosa, Kan. Machado is scheduled for sentencing on June 1, 2010. […] Co-defendant Robert Leroy Maxwell is awaiting trial. […]”

COMMENTS: We often hear folks in rural areas say that “mail theft doesn’t happen in our neck of the woods.” This story is evidence to the contrary. Mail theft is happening everywhere – in urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods all across the nation. No place is immune. That’s why everyone should protect their incoming mail with a security locking mailbox, and use secure USPS boxes to send sensitive mail like checks.

Thefts & Mischief
The World Link – 3/9/10

(COOS BAY, OREGON) “March 8, 9:47 a.m., mail theft was reported in the 400 block of Fir Avenue.”

COMMENTS: Notice that contrary to popular belief, mail theft does occur in broad daylight – just one more reason everyone should have a high security locking mailbox.

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