Mail Theft Monday – 8/9/10

Mail theft in Falcon
The New Falcon Herald – 8/8/10

(FALCON, COLORADO) “This summer, Falcon experienced a crime spree. The offense: mail theft.

One or more individuals were driving around Falcon neighborhoods that have individual mailboxes, looking for an “up” flag indicating a mailbox containing outgoing mail.

They would take the outgoing mail and open the envelopes. Then, they would drive on, looking for another mailbox with an “up” flag. In that mailbox, they would remove the outgoing mail and leave the empty envelopes from the previous mailbox.

“They were looking for checks,” said Chris Groskinsky, a supervisor at Peyton’s post office. “I recovered some of the mail and the checks were taken out.”

Kelly Salling-Davies, who lives in Woodmen Hills, left mail for pick up from her mailbox. Later, when she checked for incoming mail, she found two opened envelopes with a return address from a house a few blocks away, she said. When she returned her neighbor’s mail, she learned one of those envelopes had contained a check.

According to, common household chemicals can be used to remove ink from checks. The thief then rewrites the payee, increases the amount payable and cashes the check.

“For the short term, it would be wise for everybody not to put mail out for pick up,” Groskinsky said. Maybe for the long term, too.

The Falcon thieves might have been looking for checks, but, according to an article at, some thieves use stolen mail to steal identities [emphasis added]. A name, street address, credit card number and bank account number are just what an identity thief is looking for.

When outgoing letters are gone, it’s assumed they’ve been picked up by the postal carrier. This gives mail thieves a big advantage because it usually takes quite a bit of time before the victim realizes something is wrong.

In this case, the Falcon mail thieves did their victims a favor by depositing the stolen mail in another mailbox. The victims were alerted that something was amiss within a few days or less. […]

Mail theft can also be reported to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at […] Putting outgoing mail in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox could have risks, too. […]”

COMMENTS: Good points. In general, sending checks in the mail is not secure. Thieves target residential mailboxes with their flags up, but they also target blue USPS drop boxes, unfortunately. If you must send a check, bring it directly to the post office. However, using online bill pay is always a more secure option. Additionally, if you receive mail at an unlocked residential mailbox, you are highly vulnerable to identity theft. In your mailbox thieves can find everything they need to steal your identity. Therefore you should secure your incoming mail with a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver.

POLICE REPORTS: Someone steals check from mail and repurposes it
The Lufkin Daily News – 8/7/10

(LUFKIN, TEXAS) “A check was stolen from the outgoing mail of a home in the 2500 block of Daniel McCall Drive, according to a Lufkin Police report.

The victim told police that the check was altered and passed for $1,000 worth of merchandise. […]”

COMMENTS: Checks are often stolen from outgoing mail, so individuals need to take necessary precautions – namely, do not send checks from an unsecured mailbox. If you  must pay bills via check, bring them directly to the post office. However, it is more secure to pay bills online. Additionally, individuals should take precautions to prevent theft of incoming mail from the mailbox, which offers criminals a wealth of information to use for identity theft. A high security locking mailbox is a must for mail identity theft prevention.

Elyria man believes mail stolen from home mailbox
The Morning Jounral – 8/5/10

(ELYRIA, OHIO) “A man had to notify his bank to cancel checks he’d written to pay bills Tuesday after he believed the bills he’d left out to be picked up by the mail carrier were stolen from his mailbox on the 200 block of Warden Avenue, according to an Elyria police report.

The man’s wife came home and found one of the five bills had been left behind and when she approached the mail carrier believing he’d left it behind by mistake, he said he hadn’t make it to their home yet, the report said.”

COMMENTS: It is highly fortunate that this Elyria man noticed that his outgoing mail was stolen. Now, he has (and should heed) the opportunity to put a credit alert on his accounts, as well as contact his bank to stop payment on the stolen checks. Most victims of mail theft are not so lucky. In fact, most people do not even realize when their mail has been stolen. Stolen mail is one of the most common ways that criminals find information used for identity theft. It is easy to find bank account statements, courtesy checks, social security statements and more all in your curbside mailbox. That is why it is so crucial to be vigilant with your mail. Use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss to protect your incoming mail. Never send sensitive mail like checks from an unsecured mailbox – bring them to the post office or use online bill pay, which is more secure. Finally, always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in the mailbox) before discarding them.

Mail Stolen From Randolph Co. Mailboxes
WHIO – 8/3/10

(RANDOLPH COUNTY, INDIANA) “Authorities in Indiana said someone has been stealing mail out of rural mailboxes in Randolph County.

The sheriff’s office said they are investigating the thefts. They said someone has been removing outgoing mail from rural mailboxes.The people are looking for checks used to pay bills and then altering those checks and cashing them. Deputies said if you see any kind of suspicious activity, call the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office.”

COMMENTS: Mail identity theft is happening across the nation and residents should take precautions. People should know that thieves are not only looking for checks to wash and fraudulently cash; they are also looking to steal your incoming mail to find sensitive information to use for identity theft. In your mailbox, criminals can find bank statements, credit card offers, courtesy checks, utility statements, social security information and more! To protect yourself from mail identity theft, use a high security locking mailbox like the MailBoss to secure incoming mail, and never send sensitive mail like checks from an unsecure mailbox. Finally, always shred sensitive documents (most of which come in your mailbox) before discarding them.

Mail Theft Results in Neighborhood Watch
KTNA 88.9FM – 8/3/10

(TALKEETNA, ALASKA) “Whether residents like it or not, it seems that summer is the time when crime increases. Even though it might not seem serious to some, troopers and federal investigators were called for what will be considered a federal crime, if the guilty party doesn’t return the stolen Netflix soon.”

COMMENTS: Not much to go on here, but I take this story to indicate that there has been an increase in mail theft in the Susitna Valley of Alaska, and residents have taken notice. To prevent mail identity theft, use a high quality lockable mailbox that secures your incoming mail.

Four Arrested in Staunton Mail Theft Case
WHSV 3 – 8/3/10

(STAUNTON, VIRGINIA) “Four arrests have been made after a rash of mail thefts in Staunton.

Staunton police arrested Hillary Reed, April Renee Brown, Dion Saunders and Melissa Nofflet for allegedly taking mail from people’s mailboxes and looking for cash, checks and personal information. […]

Police say several tips, combined with some diligent leg-work Sunday night, led to Monday morning’s arrests.

“It was basically all night long, the entire shift put all the effort in. I’m just finishing up now this morning at 11 o’clock, so it was a team effort. We were able to put everything together, and it came together fine,” says Officer Jeremy Campbell of the Staunton Police Department.

Campbell says, when police made the arrests, the suspects were surprised that police were able to identify them.

During a search of Nofflet’s residence on Ridge Road, police found several of the stolen letters and even identified more Staunton residents who may not know they were victims.

“It’s probably still out there now that people don’t even know that their mail was stolen, and they need to come forward now so we can continue with charges,” says Campbell.

Police are still identifying more victims and are asking Staunton residents to check bank statements and make sure that service providers received payments.

Right now, the suspects are only facing state charges, but police say the evidence will be given to federal prosecutors as well.

Stealing mail is a federal offense.”

COMMENTS: As evident from what the police found in this case, when these criminals steal your mail, they are not just looking for checks to wash and fraudulently cash. They are looking for your personal information and anything they can use to commit identity theft.

Another point made here that is worth noting: many of the victims had not even reported their mail missing to police. In all likelihood, this is because they did not realize their mail had been stolen. In fact, most victims of identity theft do not know how their information was compromised.

To prevent mail identity theft, it is of the utmost importance to be vigilant with incoming and outgoing mail. Use a high security mailbox like the Mail Boss to secure incoming mail, and never send checks from an unsecured mailbox. Remember that paying bills online is more secure. Finally, shred all sensitive documents (most of which come in the mail) before discarding them. These simple steps will go along way in preventing mail identity theft from happening to you.

Sheriff warns about rural mailbox thieves
Winchester News-Gazette – 8/2/10

(RANDOLPH COUNTY, INDIANA) “The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department has been investigating thefts of mail from rural mailboxes. Investigators believe the perpetrator is removing outgoing mail and looking for personal checks used to pay bills. The checks are then being altered and cashed.

The sheriff is asking rural citizens to report any suspicious activity, such as unfamiliar vehicles or unfamiliar mail carriers pulling up to boxes. Anyone who notices something suspicious should report it by calling 765-584-1721.

Detective Tom Pullins does not recommend for citizens to approach the suspicious persons or vehicles. Instead, the citizens should try to obtain a description of the vehicle or the person without placing themselves in danger. […]”

COMMENTS: Mail identity theft is an epidemic across the nation. Yes, thieves look for checks to wash, so you should never leave sensitive outgoing mail in an unsecured mailbox. However, they also look for your personal incoming mail where they can find a treasure trove of information for identity theft. Bank statements, credit card offers, courtesy checks, utility bills and more can all be used to steal your identity. You don’t throw these things in the trash before shredding or burning them, so why leave them in your unlocked mailbox for thieves to steal?

To secure your mail and your identity, use a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss that can’t be fished by hand or easily pried open with a screwdriver. The Mail Boss locking mailbox is affordable and available at Ace Hardware, True Value and Rural King.

Three Arrested for Mailbox Thefts
WHSV 3 – 8/2/10

(STAUNTON, VIRGINIA) “During the past few weeks, the Staunton Police Department has been dealing with thefts from mail boxes, and three people have been charged for the crimes.

Police say the thieves were specifically looking for bill payment checks put in mailboxes that had their flags up.

Hillary Reed faces four counts of petty larceny on a third or subsequent offense, two counts of forgery, two counts of uttering and two misdemeanor counts of obtaining money by false pretenses.

April Renee Brown is charged with three counts of petty larceny on a third or subsequent offense and one misdemeanor charge of obtaining money by false pretenses.

Dion Saunders faces one count of obtaining money by false pretenses, but police say he will face additional charges.

All three of these people are currently in custody.

Police say there is a fourth suspect, Melissa Nofflet, whose home on Ridge Road was searched as part of the investigation into the thefts. They say she will be charged.

According to police, some more victims were identified because of the investigation into these incidents.

COMMENTS: It’s so important to secure your incoming mail with a high security locking mailbox like the Mail Boss. Thieves target your mail where they can find everything they need for identity theft. You don’t throw away your social security or bank statements without shredding or burning them, so don’t leave your mail out there for thieves to steal. The Mail Boss will secure your mail and identity, and is affordable at Ace Hardware and True Value.

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