Perhaps we should just start calling this post “Mail Theft Tuesday”? In our defense, it’s trade show season, which makes it difficult to stay on top of this sort of thing. Just in the past month, we’ve been to Chicago, New Orleans and Minneapolis getting dealers on board with the Mail Boss. We have some exciting stuff in the works, but more on that later! For now, let’s get to the good stuff mail identity theft happening across the nation.

$10,000 Reward Offered in Mohave Co. Mail Theft
KSAZ FOX 10 – 4/15/10

(BULLHEAD CITY, ARIZONA) “At least 900 people have been victimized in Mohave County due to a string of mail thefts and mailbox damage. The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Postal Agents are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible.

Authorities say that between Feb. 2 and April 12, about 71 neighborhood mailboxes have been broken into and mail has been stolen in Bullhead City, Fort Mohave, and Mohave Valley. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has been replacing the damaged boxes with higher security boxes.

The public’s help is needed in identifying possible suspects and the suspect vehicle in these surveillance photos. The photo shows a suspect entering a convenience store after driving up in a white pickup truck.”

COMMENTS: If I lived in Bullhead City, Mohave, or anywhere for that matter that required I use a cluster box unit (CBU) I would be livid. How is it that these citizens are forced to use mailboxes that are NOT secure? These mailboxes have been being targeted by savvy thieves for months if not years now, and the information within has been distributed in the identity theft rings. Individuals should be able to decide what kind of mailbox they use, and those who consider their identity worth securing should have the option of using a high security locking mailbox. Period.

A little bit about a lot of things
Westside Connect – 4/13/10

(GUSTINE, CALIFORNIA) “[…] Identity theft and computer fraud are two facts of life in our world, sadly, as plenty of people have no hesitation about separating hard-working people from their cash through the use of technology.

Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson and Det. James Eichbaum, speaking at a Newman merchant meeting last week, outlined a number of steps local residents and businesses can take to reduce their chance of being victimized.

A large part of their presentation simply reinforced some of the basics: Such as shred, shred, shred when it comes to anything that may hold personal information that can be used by ID thieves. The speakers also reminded the business leaders gathered that they must protect not only their private information, but that of their customers and staff members.

“Dumpster diving” is common in the search for valuable information, they said… which refers back to the “when in doubt, shred” rule. Companies are required to destroy sensitive paperwork instead of simply dumping it intact in the trash out back – which could be a gold mine for ID thieves. Also, if companies have any indication that a data base has been compromised they have a responsibility to notify their customers so they can monitor their credit.

Mail theft is another growing problem. Residents should never let mail sit in a box overnight (even some supposedly secure boxes are being entered by sophisticated thieves who work in the middle of the night), and a red flag left up for collection is also a beacon for shady characters that outgoing mail is ripe for the taking.

That also applies to leaving stacks of outgoing business mail on a front counter, etc…, the business leaders were told. […]”

COMMENTS: Everyone knows to shred their sensitive documents before discarding them. In fact, statistics show some 90% of Americans shred or burn their personal documents. One question: What is it that we all so vigilantly shred? Of course, most of what we shred comes from our mailboxes. There are 60 million unlocked mailboxes in the United States that offer a treasure trove of sensitive documents for identity thieves to steal. Why, I ask, would a criminal rifle through mounds of trash in the dump to find documents (most of which have likely been shredded) when they can simply grab whatever they want from your mailbox in a few seconds. Common sense says a great deal of identity theft is being perpetuated via the mail. The fact that the majority of ID theft victims do not know how their information was stolen lends further support to this reasoning. After all, how would you know if your mail was stolen? Take home message: shredding is only part of the solution. To be sure that your information is secure, you need to protect your sensitive documents at their source (the mailbox) with a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss.

Woman nabbed for suspected mail theft
Tracy Press – 4/12/10

(MOUNTAIN HOUSE, CALIFORNIA) “Two women were found wandering around the 100 block of Patterson Avenue in Mountain House on Thursday and were arrested on suspicion of stealing mail.

Lashay Pierce, 30, was charged with three counts of possession of stolen property after a San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputy found mail from three different addresses in her purse. Deputies also reported finding a glass pipe and “a white powdery substance” in her 34-year-old friend’s bag.

That friend, Dorshea Cleveland, was arrested on suspicion of theft and drug violations. Deputies determined that both women were on parole.”

COMMENTS: Here’s a pop quiz you should be able to ace by now…

Mail theft goes hand in hand with?

(A) Methamphetamine use/abuse
(B) Repeat petty /drug crime offenses
(C) Identity theft
(D) All of the above

If you guessed “D” just contact us and we’ll send you a free Mail Boss t-shirt… because it’s your lucky day! 🙂

Postal Officials Investigate Cheyenne Mail Thefts
KJCT 8 – 4/12/10

(CHEYENNE, WYOMING) “U.S. postal inspectors and police are investigating reports of mail being stolen from residents’ mailboxes in the south and east parts of Cheyenne. In the past several weeks, residents have reported that their mail was stolen and dumped in other locations after being opened.

Postal Inspector Chris Lucas says the mail is secure, but postal officials want to warn residents someone may be trying to seek their personal and financial information. They encourage people to retrieve their mail every day and to place any outgoing mail in blue collection boxes at post offices.

Stealing, destroying or tampering with mail is a felony punishable by up to five years and prison and a $250,000 fine.'”

COMMENTS: Of course the postal inspectors are assuring residents that the mail is secure. They have a vested interest in people using the United States Postal Service. The sad fact, however, is that mail theft is happening across the nation every day. Residents have to take the necessary precautions to protect their mail and their identity and that requires (1) the use of a high security locking mailbox to secure incoming mail, (2) the use of blue USPS mailboxes to send sensitive outgoing mail, and (3) the use of a cross-cut paper shredder to destroy sensitive documents before discarding them. It’s that simple.

Postal Inspectors investigating mail theft in Las Vegas
ABC 13 – 4/12/10

(LAS VEGAS, NEVADA) “Several mailboxes at the main post office in Las Vegas have been broken into, and with tax time here, law enforcement is giving the case a top priority. The U.S. Postal Inspector for Las Vegas is trying to track down whoever’s responsible.

It was such a bold crime, to put it in perspective, officials couldn’t even remember off-hand the last time a blue collection box was broken into in Las Vegas. Investigators are following up some leads, but meantime, they’re concerned people’s most sensitive information is in the wrong hands.

Dozens of people who use the main post office on Sunset all seem to share one thing in common. “Security is very important,” says one patron.

“Everything that comes in the mail is our life blood,” adds another patron.

“Security,” stresses Carrie Parker, who’s also a customer.

Carrie could be a victim of mail theft, and she’s not alone. Between April 3rd and 4th, someone broke into the collection boxes at the Sunset office, possibility popping the locks.

The postal inspector says he can’t be sure yet just how much mail was stolen, because it happened after the last collection time. The collection boxes are heavy duty, and since the thefts the post office has installed some heavy duty security, including industrial strength locks. […]”

“They should go to jail,” says Carrie. The penalty is actually federal prison, for up to five years for each piece of mail stolen.

Investigators believe that this was an isolated incident, and is not a case of criminals on a mail theft rampage so to speak.”

COMMENTS:

  1. Why, oh why, are there not “industrial strength” locks on these blue USPS mailboxes to begin with? I mean, seriously. This is where people bring their outgoing mail to ensure that it is secure. The government has an obligation to provide high-security drop boxes. What a disappointment.
  2. Thieves are getting pretty desperate when they are breaking into government USPS boxes. Yes, tax season is prime time for mail thieves. However most thieves simply target incoming mailboxes. This just goes to show you how bold some mail thieves are.
  3. The article states that this is probably an isolated incident and not mail thieves on some ‘rampage’. Three words: I DOUBT IT.