Mail Theft Monday – 7/19/10

Mail theft in Maple Leaf
The Maple Leafer – 7/15/10

(SEATTLE, WASHINGTON) “Anyone else in Maple Leaf having a problem with mail theft? I remember at a Maple Leaf Community Council meeting earlier this year, this issue was brought up — but I thought I had heard they caught the main culprit.

Either they didn’t, or a copy cat has emerged.

We got a letter from the postal service about a month ago telling us they caught someone and they scanned a copy of some of the mail addressed to my household that was in the thief’s possession. Cue the scrambling to check my bank and credit card statements! All good, phew. Although just recently I received a notice that I failed to show up for jury duty — would have been nice to receive the first notice. Makes me wonder how much other mail I’m missing.

This morning, I walked outside to see that the four mailboxes outside my house were open, and the only thing left in them was coupon books/pamphlets. Looks like we have another mail thief in our hands in Maple Leaf.

If you have questions — you can reach the Seattle Postal Service office at 877-876-2455. You can also report mail theft here at the U.S. Postal Service’s website.

Want to prevent mail theft? The Pinehurst Seattle blog has some good tips on where to purchase a locking mailbox. It’s always good to first check with the postal service, though, as there are restrictions on what type of mailbox you can have. Thanks, Donna, for the reminder – Maple Leaf Ace also carries security locking mailboxes!!”

COMMENTS: The Mail Boss is the high security mailbox that is available at Maple Leaf Ace Hardware. The Mail Boss is a family owned company based in Redmond Washington. Epoch Design started making the Mail Boss locking mailbox back in 2006 after the owners had their mail stolen 3 times in as many months and all the products found at Home Depot and online were made of cheap materials and could easily be pried open. The Mail Boss is a high security locking mailbox available in curbside and wall mount options that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver. It is made of heavy gauge galvanized powder coated steel and keeps your mail and identity safe. Also can take a baseball bat no problem.

Mail theft is a growing problem across the nation but particularly in Seattle. It is not just “one guy” who is out there doing this. Your mail is not safe just because he/she was caught. This is an ongoing and growing problem across the nation!

Most everyone uses a paper shredder to shred their sensitive documents before discarding them, but don’t think about where these documents come: in the unlocked mailbox. Research indicates that “old-fashioned” low tech methods (and not cyber crimes as is often believed) constitute the majority of identity theft cases, so the best defense is:

  1. Use a high security locking mailbox to protect incoming mail. The Mail Boss is a great option. Fort Knox and Armadillo also offer high security mailboxes.
  2. Never send sensitive mail from an unsecured mailbox; bring checks to the Post Office or better yet use online bill pay.
  3. Always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in your unlocked mailbox) before discarding them.

ALERT: Watch out for mail thieves
In Contra Costa Blog – 7/15/10

(CLAYCORD, CALIFORNIA) “Mail thieves in CLAYCORD, they’ve been around for a long time, but it’s probably good to throw a reminder out there once in a while, especially since I just received a disturbing email….

Please tell people not to put outgoing mail that includes checks in their mailbox.

There have been a series of stolen mail on the border of Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek. Somebody stole a check and later that day cashed it for $3800.

Thanks for the info! Be careful what you put in your mailbox!”

COMMENTS: Good advice: Don’t send checks from an unsecured mailbox. Equally if not more important, though: Secure your incoming mail! With a check, a thief can wash it and fraudulently cash it and it’s a pain to reconcile it with the banks. But in your incoming mail, a thief can often find everything needed to steal your identity. If your ID is compromised it can take years and thousands of dollars to rectify the situation. Bank account statements, courtesy checks, credit card offers, utility bills, social security statements and more all come in your mailbox.

A high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss is a must to secure your incoming mail and protect your good name. When choosing a locking mailbox, make sure you find one made of quality materials (heavy gauge steel) that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver.

2 arrested in Alpine after police discover burglary tools, stolen mail
Deseret News – 7/14/10

(ALPINE, UTAH) “Two people were arrested in Alpine after police say they discovered 51 burglary tools, a $1,000 diamond, drugs and more than 50 pieces of stolen mail in the truck the pair were driving Tuesday.

Alishia Miller, 34, and Dennis Shunn, 41, were pulled over about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday after a police officer noticed one of the truck’s headlights was out, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court.

During a search, the officer discovered burglary tools, including pliers, black ski masks, a glass punch and Slim Jims, the affidavit states. The officer also found the mail that belonged to 15 different people and included birth certificates, bank account statements and personal checks made out and signed.

Shunn admitted to owning a black bag found in the truck that contained methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, a diamond and some of the burglary tools, according to the affidavit.

Miller and Shunn were each booked for investigation of 51 counts of possession of burglary tools. Miller was also booked for investigation of a pattern of unlawful activity, mail theft, possession of stolen property and other charges. Shunn was also booked for investigation of various drug and stolen property charges.”

COMMENTS: Isn’t it ridiculous what you can find in a mailbox? Birth certificates! Bank Statements! CHECKS!!! It is unfathomable that so many people still use regular ol’ mailboxes like all their personal information is perfectly safe. The reality is to protect your identity you need to use a high security locking mailbox to keep your mail from thieves. You don’t throw your mail away before shredding it… so what makes you think that thieves would rather steal your trash from a dump than your mail from an unlocked (or low-quality locking) mailbox?

Five sentenced in Placer County check fraud
Sacramento Bee – 7/14/10

(PLACER COUNTY, CALIFORNIA) “Seven members of a crime ring that stole checks out of rural mailboxes in Placer County and used account and routing numbers to create counterfeit checks have been sentenced to jail and prison terms.

Banks and individuals lost thousands of dollars as a result of the fraudulent activities that occurred between February and October of 2009, according to a Placer County District Attorney’s Office news release.

“We are aware of more than a dozen victims whose account information was used and of probably another dozen stores and banks that were victimized when fraudulent checks were passed,” prosecutor Dan Quick said in a written statement.

[…] The counterfeiters came to law enforcement officers’ attention when one of the defendants was caught after trying to pass a phony check at a business. Phony checks found in the suspect’s vehicle led to the arrests of others involved in the operation.

Quick advised residents of rural areas to use caution when putting up the red flag on their mailboxes. In addition to alerting postal carriers to outgoing mail, they may be alerting thieves that they are sending out a check. He recommended people drop their letters in a mailbox at a post office.”

COMMENTS: Residents need to be cautious not only with their outgoing mail, but also with their incoming mail. Crooks can steal and wash a check and cash it fraudulently, but with your incoming mail they can attain information to use for identity theft, which can be much more financially devastating. Secure your mail and protect your identity with a secure locking mailbox, and never send checks from an unlocked box! It’s better to use online bill pay.

Pair sought in mail theft case
Lubbock Avalanche Journal – 7/14/10

lubbock_martinez(LUBBOCK, TEXAS) “Authorities are looking for two suspects wanted on mail theft charges.
Officials say Crystal Torres Martinez, 22, and Macedonio Armando Flores III, 24, are hiding from law enforcement after being indicted by a federal grand jury in April.

The pair is accused of possessing checks stolen from mail boxes in Lubbock on Oct. 22, according to their federal indictments.

Martinez was described as Hispanic, about 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighing about 125 pounds, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. She has a tattoo “XXI” on her left ring finger.

Flores was described as Hispanic, 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing about 150 pounds. He has “Abagail” tattooed on his right wrist. He has several aliases, including “Dodat” and “Mac Flores.”

Authorities urge caution around the suspects and ask that residents don’t try to apprehend them.

Anyone with information should call (877) 876-2455 or a local law enforcement agency.”

COMMENTS: If these two are missing, I’d be keeping an eye on your residential mailbox. It’s very likely that Martinez and Flores are still on the streets stealing mail for quick cash, or worse, identity theft. To protect yourself, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to secure incoming mail, and never send mail from an unlocked box. Bring checks to the post office or use online bill pay.

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